"THE HASTY HEART," Hale Center Theater Orem, through Sept. 13 (226-8600); running time 2 hours (one intermission)

OREM — From the moment one steps into the Hale Center Theater Orem, it's obvious that director Maureen Eastwood has a clear vision of the story she wants to tell.

A fine mist hangs in the air, and an arrangement of Army-issue hospital beds covers the stage, complete with mosquito netting atop each bed. Jungle noises come from all corners, and a Scottish bagpipe march begins to play.

It's a simple but fine setting for a simple but fine story, albeit one that's a little dated.

"The Hasty Heart" takes place in a British military hospital in the 1940s. The guys in the ward and Nurse Margaret, played with just the right touch of class and heart by Erica Baxter, are funny and come across as real people with a desire to help out Lachlen, a rude Scotsman played by Elwon J. Bakly.

Lachlen is a no-nonsense, "I-don't-need-anybody" kind of guy who makes it hard for anyone to befriend him. Bakly does a good job with the Scottish brogue and effectively portrays several changes in his emotional state.

Bakly's helped along with nice performances by Rhett Gagon (Digger), Matt Barrington (Kiwi), Richard Absher (Tommy), David Luangrath (Blossom) and Bobby Swenson (Yank). Swenson is double cast in the role with Mitch Hall.

Blossom only speaks a word or two during the whole show yet conveys a surprising amount of personality. It's easy to care about these guys.

It's interesting that a tender, bittersweet story told in one setting — mainly through dialogue between patients and a nurse — can be so riveting.

There are lots of pithy lines and a good measure of humor in a sobering story.

The story isn't a downer, but it is, in fact, a refreshing reminder that even the most prickly people can be reached with kindness and love.

Put this one on the list to see.


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