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Tiger Country review at Hampstead London

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Playwright and director Nina Raine is on a roll. After the success of her sell-out show, Tribes, at the Royal Court last October, she now directs her new play, which is a large-cast drama about the experiences of doctors and surgeons at a busy London hospital. And busy is the word for her production, which buzzes with emergencies, surgical procedures and rapid diagnoses.

Attention focuses on Emily, the new girl on the ward, a young doctor who wants to do well. But very soon the strains of the job – especially losing a 24-year-old to cardiac arrest in A&E – take their toll on her professional morale, and on her relationship with James, another doctor. Meanwhile, we see the conflict between other doctors, such as the ambitious Vashti and the bullish Mark.

Hospital politics are mentioned, and a whole roster of medics, from the sassy Rebecca to the wise Brian, are sketched in. There is even one doctor, the intuitive John, who himself falls seriously sick. At the same time, there are brief mentions of philosophical subjects, such as how doctors use language to help patients to talk about their pain. But sadly, a lot of this is underdeveloped. Several operations are shown in close-up.

If the bulk of the play is an experiential account of what it’s like to work as a doctor in A&E, the main acting focus is on Ruth Everett’s deeply-felt Emily. But the rest of the cast are also convincing, especially Henry Lloyd-Hughes as James, Thusitha Jayasundera as Vashti, Adam James as John, Pip Carter as Mark, Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Rebecca, and Nicolas Tennant as Brian.

This is an absorbing play with scalpel-sharp dialogue and a terrifying vision of doctors on the edge.

Production Information

Hampstead, London, January 13-February 5

Author
Nina Raine
Director
Nina Raine
Producers
Hampstead Theatre, Alcove Entertainment
Cast includes
Ruth Everett, Adam James, Thusitha Jayasundera, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Nicolas Tennant, Pip Carter, Sharon Duncan-Brewster
Running time
2hrs 15mins
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