[The 2014 revivial has a largely new cast.]
Raine's new play looks at life in a big city hospital, where doctors
and surgeons struggle to save lives while coping with
politics, career issues, budget constraints, interfering regulations,
physical exhaustion and the desire to maintain some sort of personal
is fast moving,
consistently interesting and occasionally insightful, and if you have
never seen a single episode of Casualty, Holby City, MASH or Scrubs, it
might even tell you something you don't know.
not much in
the way of plot. We are invited to focus for a while on a young doctor
who cares too much about each individual patient and has to learn to
there are also
episodes about the fear every surgeon faces when beginning to cut, the
need to work within the professional pecking order, the shifting of
gears that comes when the patient is someone close to you or indeed you
yourself, the dilemma of blowing the whistle on an incompetent
superior, the pain of telling a popular patient there's nothing more
you can do for him, and the seemingly irrelevant non-medical things
(like personality clashes) that can affect a doctor's career.
of the patients
is an actor in a TV soap, and Tiger Country does sometimes feel like a
whole season's worth of Holby City plot lines squeezed into two hours.
saves it is
the convincing authority of Nina Raine's writing - I happened to be
sitting next to a doctor, who assured me in the interval that the
characterisations were strikingly accurate and that the rivalry and
mutual disdain between doctors and surgeons and the turf battles, black
humour, casual racism and sexism, jockeying for advancement and
self-protective shells of unfeeling coldness were all spot-on - and her
recognition that the constant spectres of despair and burnout hover
over every small triumph and defeat.
benefits from the playwright-director's fluid and fast-moving
choreography of scenes, hinting at the just-this-side-of-chaos speed of
a hospital day while always keeping clear focus on the episode at hand.
sympathetic as the overwhelmed young doctor and Thusitha Jayasundera as
a surgeon who feels more than the professional shell she has adopted
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- Tiger Country - Hampstead 2011, 2014