THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Tiger Country ★★★★
Hampstead Theatre, London
Monday 8th December 2014 - Thursday 15 January 2015
Originally streamed back in July 2015 after a successful winter run the year before, Nina Raine’s Tiger Country continues to showcase some of theatre’s finest talents from it’s cast to creatives, in the latest stint of Hampstead Theatre’s ‘at home’ season. After being transfixed on her 2017 run of Consent at The National Theatre, I was delighted when it announced that Raine’s previous writing credits were to be showcased, with a production I was unfamiliar with, coming to realise following just how brilliant Nina’s ability is to write characters that we can care for within moments of being introduced to them due to the layers that drives deep into the body of work.
We are charged straight into the operating room at the start of the show, where the heart of the action sees our characters flourish, with A&E registrar Vashti (Indira Varma) performing a delicate operation to remove a testicle. What’s quite refreshing to see here is the humour that comes from Raine’s script that must elevate what life is really like for those in the force, highlighted in this case where the choice of background music is debated, from soulful tunes to The Lion King, before a blast from the films soundtrack hurtles into the next scene, with Leon Baugh’s choreographed sequences woven further into the scene changes, most likely to liven up an otherwise rather sombre setting.
One of the main threads that channels throughout is Emily (Ruth Everitt), who begins life in the first scene as a fresh ideological on the ward, and is quickly pushed through her paces on the night shifts, along with her charming boyfriend James (Luke Thompson), finding out first hand how the strain of a new job can get to her emotions, and more physically when she stresses about neck pains, headaches, and shoulder spasms. We also see how she reacts when Mr Leffe (Maxwell Hutcheon), an older gentlemen with more authority on her shift, makes a rather abrupt call and undermining Emily’s own opinions, in a harrowing scene where we find her personal feelings affect the job in trying to resuscitate a woman of a similar age to her own, ultimately affecting her relationship as she cannot let the job go.
The whole ensemble are perfectly conceived to their characters, and multi roling plays a huge part in showcasing the true and honest portrayal of what a day on the ward may look like; Maxwell Hutcheon in particular transforms as the professional and authoritative Mr Leffe to become the elderly Geoffrey, who certainly has us laughing as he has a way with charming the ladies, but then who’s journey will absolutely leave a tear in your eye come the climax of the piece. Souad Faress and Jenny Galloway also multirole from Staff/Patients Lakshmi/Bindu (Faress) and Olga/Gillian (Galloway), where both characters interweave into Vashti’s life as she is torn between her personal family affairs or attending conferences that she has to attend, with rather bleak consequences that push her to the very edge of her otherwise defining career traits.
Overall, Nina Raine’s Tiger Country packs a punch in giving us an insight into a completely hypothetical, but totally realistic world into the life of those fighting on the frontline to keep their patients alive and well, and whilst at times we wish this was a production that head all it’s threads lead to a happy ending, the honest impact and rhythm is what drives the ensemble and Lizzie Clachan’s gorgeous set design to a truthful conclusion.
You can Stream Tiger Country Now by Clicking Here.