With Its 'Heart' on Its Sleeve

First, a confession. I missed three performances of The Hasty Heart in a row before I finally saw it. I nearly missed it entirely. The loss, clearly, would have been mine.

The Keen Company and director Jonathan Silverstein have assembled a cast of impressive talent and let them loose. The group has an old-soldier ease, the familiarity of an Elks lodge during happy hour. Their interactions are so affectionate and look so much fun that I was tempted to join, to get out of my seat and play solitaire with the boys.

John Patrick's The Hasty Heart takes place in a British Army hospital in South Asia, during the waning days of the Second World War. We see a single wing with six beds, occupied by five soldiers from the disparate colonies (and former colonies) of the Empire: the gentle Blossom (Chris Chalk), an African native who speaks little and understands less; compulsive gambler Kiwi (Paul Swinnerton), from New Zealand; the stuttering American, Yank (Chris Hutchison); tubby Englishman Tommy (Anthony Manna); and Digger (Brian Sgambati), the Australian.

One bed is empty, to be occupied by Lachie (Keith Nobbs), a Scottish soldier dying of kidney failure. He has, at most, a few weeks left, and the stuffy Colonel (Stephen Bradbury) asks the raucous men and their lovely nurse (Emily Donahoe) to look after him. A dying man, he says, should have some friends by his side.

There is just one problem

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