The Hasty Heart – Los Angeles Times

August 24, 2007
Beautifully Produced Revival Goes Down Like A Charm

Orphaned as an infant, an ambulance driver in World War II and winner of a Tony and a Pulitzer, writer John Patrick was an old-school journeyman, a guy who cranked out 1,000 scripts for a 1930s radio show, cut Shakespeare for Helen Hayes, and adopted James Jones’ florid melodrama “Some Came Running” into a glorious celluloid opera for Frank Sinatra.

Now class-act Pacific Resident Theatre has mounted a beautifully produced revival of Patrick’s 1945 Broadway hit, “The Hasty Heart.” At a British general hospital on the Assam-Burma front in 1944, a group of Allied wounded chase away the infernal bugs and thoughts of home with mosquito swat-offs and embroidering. (The impressive bamboo and wood-slatted set is by Robert Broadfoot.).

The play’s stocked with a soldier from every English-speaking country: a Yank (Keith Stevenson), an Aussie (Nathan Mobley), a New Zealander (Michael Balsley) and a Brit (Ron E. Dickinson). They’re tended to by the efficient Sister Margaret (Lesley Fera, channeling Greer Garson), but must now bestow their own tender mercies. An unusual convalescent is about to arrive; he’s survived a battle wound but hasn’t been told he’s facing imminent kidney failure. The men are to make his last days as easy as possible. Enter Lachlen (Scott Jackson), a thorny Scot so stiff with pride he can barely walk. The boys try everything to win him over, smokes, candy, jokes, but Lachlen prefers to go it alone. Can the men bust through his shell before it’s too late? Sentimental stuff, no doubt. But this is highly refined, and it goes down like a charm because of fine ensemble work under Michael Rothhaar’s steady direction. Patrick’s band of decent brothers is just too likable to resist, and the playwright knows how to keep you hanging on every emotional turn. This “Heart” may be worn on a sleeve, but it has genuine dramatic muscle underneath. — Charlotte Stoudt “The Hasty Heart,” Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd. Venice, CA 90291. Box Office: (310) 822-8392

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