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Wild Hearts: A Woman’s Western

The three stories in "Wild Hearts" are promoted as homages to the female settlers of the frontier West. Actually, they convey entertaining slices of life that could be set in any time period, but do not adequately display the true durability of these women, nor the conflicts of the times.

The three stories in “Wild Hearts” are promoted as homages to the female settlers of the frontier West. Actually, they convey entertaining slices of life that could be set in any time period, but do not adequately display the true durability of these women, nor the conflicts of the times.

Entertaining writing shows how people from more than a century ago have some of the same problems as today. But the main characters are not fleshed out and so the audience does not have a thorough idea of what they’re up against.

Only one story actually follows this route, as the heroine turns to opium, the cocaine of that age, when faced with bad news.

The others are slightly witty looks at the role-playing of men and women, little else.

Director Allison Liddi works well with the actors to get the best out of the material.

The story of hard-working Fiona (Paula Randol-Smith), desperately in love with social-climbing soldier Johnny (Daniel Riordan), is as touchingly emoted as the wisecracks of businesswoman belle (Diana Bellamy) and loner Hote (Jerry Wayne Bernard) are broadly played.

“Wild Hearts” is one of two productions at the Venue, a new, strikingly refurbished space in the downtown brewery district and artists area. The other production, “Moving West,” a song-tribute piece from the same era, plays on weeknights.

Wild Hearts: A Woman's Western

(The Venue, Los Angeles; 49 seats; $ 17.50 top)

Production: The Venue in association with Z. Clark Branson Projects Inc. presents the world premiere of a play in three acts by Rita Sioux Lilly; director, Allison Liddi.

Creative: Lighting, David Carlton; sets, John Bellue; sound design, Andrew K. Yeator; costumes, Zale Morris. Opened Feb. 25, 1994; reviewed March 13; runs through April 24.

Cast: With: Diana Bellamy, Jerry Wayne Bernard, Paula Randol-Smith, Daniel Riordan.

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