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'Hasty' is a little dated but chuckle-worthy

August 11, 2010|By James Famera

World War II ended 65 years ago, and it's likely that the most people living today were too young to remember its horrors. But the war lives on in the hearts and minds of those who fought during it. Playwright John Patrick volunteered as a medic for the British Army during World War II.

His experiences on the front line would provide the basis for his widely successful play, "The Hasty Heart," currently playing until Aug. 21 at Glendale Centre Theatre. War, however, serves merely as a backdrop in this emotionally hitting story about love, death and the importance of friendship.

Southeast Asia is the setting, and as the play begins we enter the convalescent ward of a makeshift British hospital. Hitler has already invaded Poland, and the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. World War II is well underway. There are six beds in this particular ward, but only five are occupied.

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We meet Kiwi, a New Zealander with a broken collarbone; Digger, a rough-and-tumble Australian who refuses to back down from a fight; Yank, an American who stammers through most of his sentences; Tommy, a larger-than-life Englishman with an appetite to boot; and Blossom, an indigenous Basuto who although ignorant to the ways of Western culture, can still pull a prank like none other. Five men of considerably different backgrounds are brought together by war.

Sister Margaret (Lindsey Garrett) is the ward's compassionate young nurse, whose subtle wit plays right into the men's playful antics. "A nurse nurses babies," she tells Yank, after he teases her for preferring the English caretaker's term of Sister. One day the men are told that a Scottish soldier who has six weeks to live will occupy the empty bed. Sgt. Lachlen, or "Lachie," has been a loner for most of his life and makes a less-than-celebrated first impression.

When Yank and the others try to befriend him, Lachie shouts, "I don't value friendship! I value my privacy!" But when Sister Margaret organizes a birthday celebration in his honor, Lachie finally opens up. He's a bit awkward at first: "You've done a thing that numbs my brain" is how he voices his appreciation. When he finally does shed his hardened exterior, Lachie will realize the importance of both love and friendship.

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