Theater: Go West, Young Man

The American Dream takes a sour turn in the bleak but engrossing epic The Hollow Lands

How far d'ye have to go to get past everyone else?" asks Jim Newman, an Irish immigrant just a few years off the boat in the second decade of the 19th century. We've seen his type many times before: one of those restless individualists who helped settle the rapidly expanding American continent. Yet the trek he makes during more than 40 years--from Manhattan Island down the Ohio River Valley to St. Louis, Mo., and beyond--in Howard Korder's extraordinary new play, The Hollow Lands, leaves most of the romance behind. The journey is populated by criminals and charlatans and half-crazed messiahs; there...

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