"Hollowlands": Next Stop Eden!

The Hollow Lands
Steep Theatre Co.
Chicago, Illinois
July 30, 2009

Boy meets girl and falls in love. Simple, right? Not the way The Hollow Lands tells a love story. Irish immigrant boy meets girl, who previously had been held in captivity by Indians is permanently marked with facial tattoos, and did I mention she’s married? Okay, so now we’ve got a tale of two young lovers smitten who finally get together… end of story? Not by a long shot! It’s only the end of Act I! The Hollow Lands is a tapestry of complicated characters dealing with issues of the times: 1815-1857. Social class, slavery, women’s inequality, Indian persecution, cults, redemption, salvation, true freedom, this well-paced performance gives the audience an entertaining history lesson.

The mega talented cast energetically delivered scuffles and monologues dripping in blood and passion. A few standouts were Michael Salinas equally hilarious with an ejaculation prayerful rant to uttering just a few words as a woodsman. Yosh Hayashi portrayed Hayes as a drunken but likable asshole in his search for true freedom and Eden. Hayashi’s physicality of his zealous performance left me exhausted after three hours. I imagine Yosh spends the 21 hours between performances sleeping! And speaking of 21 hours, Boyd Harris was charming as Danny but the real nod out goes to his mother. Mrs. Harris told us she was attending her 7th performance. Boyd, your mama loves you!

For a small production company that I had never heard of, Steep began its seduction from the moment I arrived. The concrete mosaic welcome mat of the logo beckoned me to take a chance and fall in love because Steep was in it for the long haul. Cheerfully painted lobby, candle lit bathroom, but I knew I was truly smitten when the ticket guy passed out Milano cookies right before the third act. Girl meets theatre company and falls in love… end of story? I’m no Mrs. Harris but I’ll definitely be back for the next Steep production.

My playdate for the evening, Tom, described the performance as brutal, epic, and tragic.

Waiting for the Show

Because we were in his hood, Tom took me to one of his favorite haunts: Sabaidee, 5359 N. Broadway. I’ll admit I had preconceived notions from Tom’s description of “great Cambodian food “and “cheap”. My thoughts of dingy and dank disappeared immediately when I walked into the brightly lit, friendly ambiance of this Cambodian-Vietnamese restaurant. Even better, the owner waited on us. And even though Tom had recently returned from Viet Nam, he opted for the owner’s suggestion of Combo 1 (beef, sticky rice, and papaya salad). The owner chose Kao Poon Gai Soup for me. I loved the spicy curry flavor with chicken and rice noodles. Although I could never verbally request it, if I saw it on a menu, I would definitely point order it.

Because it was a school night and I had just lived through forty years of history in three hours, I decided against my usual nightcap. Instead, I flagged down the 146 right outside the theatre and was transported from the wild, unknown territory of the Berwyn stop to my native quiet Lakeview homestead. There wasn’t any more gunfire or blood shed in my presence that night but riding the CTA that close to midnight always lends itself to the possibility.

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