By: Paulanne Simmons
November 2, 2023: Dana Aber is what’s known in the theater world as a triple threat. She can sing, dance and act. All these talents are on ample display in her solo show, Baggage at the Door, directed by Joe Langworth.
Baggage at the Door tells the story of a 30ish woman who has a problem with Januarys. It seems she has experienced a series of traumatic events during that month that have left her with a serious case of PTSD. It was in January that she was bitten by a poisonous fish, stung by a mosquito that gave her dengue, hit by an A train and beaten by her husband.
Albers’ PTSD is mostly triggered when she meets a man and even more when she begins to fall in love. When she finally meets Mr. Right she is filled with anxiety over the possibility she will let him slip through her fingers.
The 85-minute show is devoted to Aber working through the problem, with the aid of her psychiatrist, an onscreen character played by Aber, whose flaming red hair is concealed under a sedate brunette wig. She examines her trauma, her fears, her encounters with men so many times she may remind many of that friend you just can’t get off the phone.
Baggage at the Door has all the passion of a personal story. Indeed although the show features songs created in collaboration with James Ballard, Christie Baugher, Alanya Bridge, Amy Burgess and Sara Cooper, Teresa Lotz, Joseph Trefler, Rachel Dean, Mika Kauffman,Martha Miller, and Thomas Jacobsen, the script was developed from essays and poetry written in response to Aber’s personal struggles.
There’s plenty of humor, irony, pathos and truly entertaining moments in Baggage at the Door. But not enough to sustain 85 minutes onstage.
Baggage at the Door runs through Nov. 16 at AMT Theater, 354 West 45 Street.
Photography: Lia Chang