DANA H. Reviewed by Celia Ipiotis
Photograph by Chad Batka: Deirdre O'Connel in Dana H. at the Lyceum Theater
Astonishing to hear how a life is manifestly altered in the space of 5 months. It only takes one unexpected, transformative act to steer a life into the underside of society and that's exactly what happened to Dana Higginbotham in 1997. In 2015, Dana's unbelievable story was recorded, and that audio interview by Steve Cosson became the basis of the riveting and very disturbing Broadway show Dana H written by Lucas Hnath.
Seated in a cushioned turquoise blue chair positioned next to a large lady's handbag on the floor, Deirdre O'Connell moved her lips to Dana's recorded words describing a harrowing journey.
A chaplain on the psychiatric floor of a hospital, Dana Higginbotham communicated with disturbed people, and she was good at it. When a former inmate, Jim, tired to commit suicide, she was called in to manage the hysterical man. This coalesced into a nightmare. Her life was forever changed after Jim was welcomed into her house that Christmas. For the next 5 months in 1998, Dana became the hostage of a nihilistic man entangled with the Aryan Brothers.