Nina Raine returns to writing roots

A helmer puts the playwright inside her back on the radar

Would Brit playwright Nina Raine be a one-hit wonder? Until this year, you’d have been forgiven for suspecting so.

Her 2006 SRO debut, “Rabbit,” transferred from a tiny London pub theater to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios. Its crackling wit won her rave reviews and the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award, and the production subsequently played the Brits Off Broadway festival at the 59E59 Theaters.

But while Raine carried on working as a director (she helmed Alia Bano’s “Shades” at the Royal Court last year), Raine the playwright all but fell off the radar. Now she’s ready to helm “Tiger Country,” a medical drama she wrote soon after “Rabbit,” at London’s Hampstead Theater in January. It is “partly inspired by a doctor friend,” says Raine. “I was fascinated by the way the job impacted on her. When I screw up, I get a bad review. If she screws up, someone dies.”

If expectations are soaring, that’s partly because Raine’s third play, “Tribes,” now at the Royal Court, confirms that the 34-year-old has moved from being promising to remarkably assured.

In “Tiger Country,” Raine wrests drama from the corridors of a hospital where two women medics endure myriad pressures. “It’s a workplace play,” says Raine. “I’m interested in professions – they give you an extra ingredient to add to the stew of a script.”

The scribe-helmer isn’t anxious about comparisons to the TV show “ER. “There’s one operation in the play. But there will be something very different about it happening right in front of us in real time rather than on a screen.”

Until that’s up and running, Raine the playwright is going into hibernation, but she already has an idea. “I just need the time to sit down and write it.”

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