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Wed, Sept. 18

Take that!<BR>PFAA's 'The Hasty Heart' combines laughs, love and loss

One of the more poignant interactions in the Prescott Fine Arts Associations production of "The Hasty Heart" is between Lachlen (Nick Fortune and Margaret (Linda Harris).

Courier/Les Stukenberg

Helped in their quest of bodily healing is Sister Margaret, played by Linda Harris. (The only woman in the nine-person cast, incidentally. A veteran of the PFAA stage, Harris does her usual dynamic acting job with this part.)

Sister Margaret also helps heal the souls of these displaced men.

"When you crush my wrist, my pulse pants," says Yank (Paul Epoch) when the lovely Sister takes his pulse.

But the companionable fellowship of the ward is disrupted when newcomer Lachlen McLachlen arrives.

Lachlen (Nick Fortune) is irascible, rigid and disdainful – altogether a thoroughly disagreeable young Scotsman, who rocks the boat of amiability at the hospital.

"He has a porcupine disposition," Yank pronounces.

Unbeknownst to only him, Lachlen is terminally ill.

Prompted initially by pity, the other men attempt to befriend the prickly Scot, though he resists with every ounce of his fear and pride.

"Sorrow is born in a hasty heart," laments Lachlan, reigning in his impulses toward friendship.

Margaret and the men eventually find a way into Lachlan's affections.

A comparatively young actor, Fortune was excellent as Lachlan, bringing just the right austerity and pliability to the Scot.

Unfortunately, the romance portion of the play was not believable, something to do with casting most likely, but the play is so full of feeling that it's not overly disruptive, but in fact adds another layer of motive perhaps unintended by either actors or director.

Another shining star of "Hasty Heart" was Paul Epoch as Yank. PFAA audiences may remember Epoch's hilarious and mesmerizing performances in "Greater Tuna," and "Christmas Tuna," as he played a half-dozen characters in each one.

It is always a joy to watch Epoch ply his acting on stage.

Todd Karlik plays Digger, a boxer and parachuter who awaits news of the birth of his first child.

Karlik's Aussie accent was "right good, mate," as was his acting. His lines weren't too bad, either.

"When I think of Australia, I get a toothache in my heart," Digger comments.

As the only Brit in the crew, Tedd deLong makes the "obese" Tommy come alive with character and warmth. Especially funny are his antics with an indispensable jungle flyswatter.

Kiwi (Greg Fine) is a compulsive gambler who'll bet on anything from when the sun will rise to what a Scot wears beneath his kilt.

Fine is also a veteran PFAA performer, perhaps best remembered for his powerful portrayal of the king of Siam in PFAA's "The King and I." Though a much smaller part, he pulls off Kiwi with style.

Last but not least, a newcomer to Prescott and PFAA, Carlton Errol Godwin as Blossom, is a visible talent. (He said but one word, repeatedly, throughout the play).

But without a doubt, with his stage presence and obvious ability, local audiences will look forward anxiously to seeing Godwin on stage again.

The stoic, yet compassionate Colonel "Cobweb" was well-played by Herbert Voss (who beat Henry Fonda out with his performance in PFAA's "On Golden Pond" – in this reporter's opinion).

Local radio announcer Jay Robbins adds to the play with walk-on appearances as an orderly.

"The Hasty Heart" is a great example of a timeless story, one with laughs and tears enough to make for a very worthwhile evening.

Director Delia Taylor dedicated the production to the late Mark P. Duke, an actor and acting teacher who passed away a year ago February.

"He was slated to direct this play," Taylor said. "We talked about producing it for years and it was a favorite for scene work in our acting workshops."

Finding a competent cast containing eight men was a daunting task for PFAA's local pool of actors, Taylor said, but ultimately, "Hasty Heart" is an accolade to both the dynamic acting talent present in this community and a fine director, as well as a fitting tribute to Mr. Duke.

Contact Sandy Moss at smoss@prescottaz.com

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