4 stars

I live with medics, and from the way they go on, one could be forgiven for thinking that the last thing that any of them want is to be a doctor. Which is why it is so funny that the ICSM medics chose to put on Tiger Country last week as their autumn play. This is a play based on the assumption that given how difficult it is to become a doctor, the only people willing to give it a go are the horrible, the neurotic or the uncaring. I bet rehearsals were a real laugh.

“Right guys, let’s just rerun the patient dying from sepsis contracted as a result of a surgical error and the underfunded heart attack unit scenes and then we can go home and do some anatomy!”

Thankfully the medics took to their roles with relish. This was what they had been training for, in some cases for 6 years and boy, were they going to show it. Patients were lifted around by burly and not so burly paramedics, acronyms like OSA or F28 were thrown around willy nilly and the cast seemed to be having a genuinely good time.

A standout performance from lead actress Vashti (Eri Aung) who drew all eyes to her whenever she was on stage. Playing the role of the highly competent but difficult surgeon she came across as 8 feet tall despite probably barely scraping 5 foot. Her despair as she is forced to choose between the health of a relative and her own career were genuinely touching and hard to watch.

The other notable performance for me was Mr Mercer the cancer sufferer (Ehsaan Zaman) while not present for long (thoughts and prayers), his noble resignation was sensitive and mature.

While lacking energy at points from certain members of the ensemble, the strength of the plot and the leads drives the story onwards to its sad and cold conclusion.

Tiger country isn’t so much about doctors as it is doctor adjacent. It is about people who have been expected to care about others for so long and with such intensity that many of them crack, sinking into despair and nihilism. The cast has a lot to look forward to.

One final point: if you were in the light box on Thursday night you should be ashamed of yourself. The whole audience could hear you talking and laughing. You let yourself and the actors who had worked so hard down.