“The Hasty Heart” — Gerri Garner’s Entertainment File

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Date: Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gerri Garner’s Entertainment File “The Hasty Heart”

The Pacific Resident Theatre has an earnest production of John Patrick’s “The Hasty Heart”. This is a story of the hard cold realities of war. It plunges to the deepest depths of human emotion. The story blends despair and mistrust with the gentle embrace of friendship and happiness. It is 1944, the Assam-Burma front. A bitter Scottish Sergeant Lachlen (Scott Jackson) is the victim of a horrific wound to his lower back. He underwent surgery, and is placed in a make shift convalescent barracks. He seems to be recovering, yet he watches in dismay as other soldiers pack, and return to their units. The doctors told him he must remain for observation. The Colonel (Christopher Shaw) tells Sister Margaret (Lesley Fera), the unit head nurse, the reason Lachlen isn’t being sent home. The wound he took destroyed one kidney, and the other will fail in a few weeks. He wants Sister to put Lachlen in with the other soldiers recovering, so he can spend his last days with friends. Lachlen is a solitary, unfriendly guy, not used to the affections of others.

Michael Rothhaar’s direction spotlights the comic camaraderie shared by the play’s characters, and the subtle ways the five men bond. The mass appeal quality of the story is a sobering dose of reality. It is a layered tale less about death, more about life, and who we celebrate it with. All the English patients have come from everywhere. Kiwi (Michael Balsley) is from New Zealand, Digger (Nathan Mobley) is from Australia, Tommy (Ron E. Dickinson) is from England, Blossom (Michael Thomas) doesn’t speak English – he is a native who joined the war effort, and then there is Yank (Keith Stevenson), it’s obvious where he’s from. Lachlen’s desire for a kilt is the evening’s centerpiece. Yank’s relationship between himself and Lachlen develops into a deep friendship. The hominess of Robert Broadfoot’s stunning hospital barracks set heightens the familial qualities of the play’s characters. The various pitch perfect dialects by the actors is a commendable way of highlighting the character’s different backgrounds. Keith Endo’s day/night lighting enhances the simple setting. Excellent production values, exemplary ensemble performances, with tremendous chemistry between Jackson, Stevenson, and Fera. Don’t miss “The Hasty Heart”, it is our critic pick.

“The Hasty Heart”, at the Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd, in Venice, plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm. For tickets and information please call (310) 822-8393 or visit www.pacificresidenttheatre.com

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