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Wednesday 19 January 2011

Tiger Country – Hampstead Theatre written and directed by Nina Raine 3* out of 5

Tiger Country is set in a busy London NHS Hospital. It follows the professional life of doctors, consultants and surgeons who have to do their work under great pressure. How does a junior doctor cope with having to lead a first emergency at A&E? How can a doctor function emotionally when he has to make life and death decisions every day? What when illness strikes a doctor himself or his family? What compromises does a doctor have to make to advance her career?

Nina Raine's play deals with all these issues. It is well crafted and the cast gives a competent ensemble performance. Tiger Country concentrates on the professional conflicts and dilemmas of working as a doctor in an NHS hospital. That is commendable and it works quite well: the play holds the interest of the audience.

The main problem with the play is that we have seen all this in one way or another in films and numerous television series: a Wikipedia-search of the category “Medical Television Series”, for instance, yields 136 entries. A smaller problem is that the acoustics of the Hampstead Theatre are not the greatest. Having said that, it is very attractive looking theatre with comfortable seats.

In one Schultz' Peanuts comic strips, Linus remarks that there is no heavier burden than a great potential. Nina Raine, who won the Critics' Circle Award as Most Promising Young Playwright for her first play, Rabbit, can probably feel Linus' pain. Nevertheless, with the somewhat oddly named “Tiger Country” she has written a not very original, yet entertaining play. I, for one, will go and see her next play, too.

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