Anyone who thought they had a dysfunctional family will eat their words once they see TRIBES.
Written brilliantly by Nina Raine and performed by a mere cast of six under the excellent direction of Shane Bosher, TRIBES is a compelling and poignant play that will change your perspective on what it really means to communicate.
Billy’s family are eccentric, egotistical and bring dysfunction to a whole new level. As soon as the lights come on what starts off as a seemingly normal family dinner quickly turns into a heated family feud – brother is arguing with father, sister is harassing brother, mother is yelling at father…it’s probably not even in that order, the point is everyone is bickering with someone.
We soon find out that this is perfectly normal behavior in this household. There is one member of the family though that is a quiet spectator to this chaos – Billy. Born deaf, he has learned to adapt exceptionally well to his family’s many idiosyncrasies and quarrelsome ways. Billy skillfully lip reads and was taught how to speak because Billy’s parents did not want him to be defined by his inability to hear and wanted to give him as normal an upbringing as possible.
The family are clearly very set in their ways but their bubble of complacency is popped when Sylvia comes into the picture. She encourages Billy to embrace the deaf community and this opens up a whole new world to him, one he had not known existed. One his family had inadvertently sheltered him from. He learns sign language to better communicate with Sylvia and eventually instills a vow of silence towards his family until they learn to sign too.
Like a fly on the wall, we watch on as this family unravels and come to grips with Billy’s new attitude towards being deaf. The journey is far from a smooth one as Billy struggles to be heard and understood in a household where people rarely listen.
TRIBES is simply superb and an absolute triumph. There will be plenty of funny moments that will have you laughing but there will also be the times of heartbreak where you may shed a tear or two (I know I did!). It is highly engaging, incredibly entertaining and delivers a powerful and inspiring message about family, love and life. The narrative is paced well and flows seamlessly from scene to scene; I also loved the way the set was utilized and the way music and select subtitles were used to drive the story.
I was completely blown away by the cast who were all just outstanding! Leon Wadham impressed me the most; his heartfelt and very believable portrayal of Billy was remarkable and so moving. Emmett Skilton (Daniel) and Jodie Hillock (Sylvia) were other standouts for me; they captured the heart of their characters perfectly and delivered such excellent and emotive performances.
While they were all fantastic individually, it is the scenes where everyone was on stage together where I felt the magic really happened. The cast have an undeniable chemistry with each other which is evident in the way they effortlessly play off one another, particularly during the many arguments that take place.
There is still time to see this fantastic Silo Theatre production and I strongly recommend that you do because it is an unmissable experience!
The Whimsical Banana rates TRIBES:
Engaging, thought-provoking and just bloody brilliant
TRIBES is playing at the Maidment Theatre until the 30th of June. For more information and to purchase tickets, go HERE.