Tiger Country - Theatre Review

Dilemmas facing modern day hospital staff are unpicked in fast-paced drama - but the characters come off as a pretty unlikeable bunch in TIGER COUNTRY at the Hampstead Theatre in Swiss Cottage.

TIGER Country bills itself as an exploration of the clinical and ethical issues that underlie hospital life – but if these are the people responsible for our health, God help us all.

Nina Raine’s fast-paced play is a blur of activity which invites us to empathise with the staff at the hospital and their ever-growing workload.

Doctors, surgeons and nurses fly across the stage as they battle exhaustion and a hierarchical system to save lives and further their careers at the same time.

It’s all a bit Casualty or ER, just not quite as good.

There are some good lines, the action is always interesting and it throws up some important issues. Surgeons are, of course, human beings who go out and get drunk, suffer pain and heartbreak themselves, fall in love and have to clock off work sometimes.

But the play suffers from the fact that the characters, almost without fail, are pretty unlikeable. From the nurses who don’t care to the surgeons who think they are God’s gift, hardly anyone seems to feel anything towards the patients.

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The only one who does is green rookie Emily (Ruth Everett), but her desperation to save everyone, bring people back from the dead and talk endlessly about work even when she finally gets home is so unbelievably annoying you want to vomit.

Vashti (Thusitha Jayasundera), a hard-nosed career doctor who barks at her juniors, eventually shows a bit of heart after her own aunt is the victim of a botched operation, but it’s still not easy to warm to her.

Tiger Country has its flaws, but you are never bored, and as a thought-provoking analysis of the personal and moral decisions which affect medics every day, it’s well worth a look.

* Showing at Hampstead Theatre in Eton Avenue, NW3, until Saturday, February 5.