Review: ‘Tribes’ says a lot, using more than mere words

All of the performances (under the meticulous direction of M. Bevin O’Gara) more than compensate for any shortcomings in “Tribes.”

The narcissism in “Tribes” will make your skin crawl — but its potency is what makes this play so effective.

These loathsome, pompous Brits — played to perfection in SpeakEasy Stage’s latest production — are an educated, insult-hurling family with foul mouths and a staggering inability to truly hear one another. It’s only when their deaf son Billy (James Caverly), who was forced to lip read rather than sign by his selfish family, ventures outside the confines of his emotionally stunted, co-dependent tribe that their twisted communication begins to break down.

The catalyst of the change is Billy’s new girlfriend Sylvia (Erica Spyres), a hearing person who is starting to go deaf. When he learns American Sign Language (ASL) at her encouragement, new worlds open up for him — but he’s also forced to face the reality of his old life.

Though Nina Raine’s script veers, at times, into melodrama and Act II is a bit heavy-handed, all of the performances (under the meticulous direction of M. Bevin O’Gara) more than compensate for any shortcomings.

Erica Spyres delivers an exceptional performance that serves as the cornerstone on which the entire production is built. Whether speaking or signing, she unearths the challenges of going deaf with heartbreaking authenticity. But it’s what she doesn’t speak or sign that puts the lump in your throat, and leaves you awestruck.

Patrick Shea is equally revolting and riotous as Christopher, the boorish, self-centered patriarch of the family. Nael Nacer nicely unravels as his oldest son Daniel, while Kathryn Myles hist all her marks as his daughter Ruth, an aspiring, yet flaky, opera singer. Adrianne Krstansky captures the balance between the dysfunction and her maternal instincts as Beth with lines like “I’m not saying anything, all I’m saying is…”

James Caverly brings impeccable instincts and impressive acting chops to his fine turn as Billy. Together, he and Spyres make magic that transcends all senses.

“Tribes”
Through Oct. 20
BCA Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont St., Boston
Starting at $25, 617-933-8600
SpeakEasyStage.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

City Council to vote on bill banning anonymous…

One of the two bills would make it so any type of communication paid for or okayed by a campaign disclose that they are involved in any way.

National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Local

VIDEO: NYPD seeks shooter in East New York…

Cops are on the lookout for an unknown shooter who aimed and missed hitting a man on a bicycle, instead nearly striking a nearby officer in East New York.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, Aug. 20: 'Extant,' 'Legends'…

See a two hour block of Halle Berry's scifi show, "Extant."

The Word

The Word: Mischa Barton in trouble, not that…

  People are really, really worried about Mischa Barton. Again. The former "O.C." star is reportedly in deep financial trouble and can't seem to get…

Movies

Review: 'The One I Love' has a top…

Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass play a frayed couple who happen on something mysterious in "The One I Love," which we can't spoil.

Movies

Review: The semi-good times don't last in the…

Despite the occasional blast of Iggy Pop and The Buzzcocks, the YA move "If I Stay" — with a near-dead Chloe Grace Moretz — soon turns maudlin.

NFL

Jace Amaro continues to deal with issue dropping…

Jets second-round pick Jace Amaro has been plagued by drops since minicamp in June.

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

Parenting

Fun family activity: Off-Broadway show for pre-teens

"The Love Note" is an off-Broadway musical your pre-teen won't roll his or her eyes at.

Parenting

Barnes & Noble partners with Samsung to release…

Barnes & Noble releases the first full android tablet optimized for reading.

Style

11 timeless gifts for registries or just because

Gifts to prove you're a style maven once and for all.

Food

The Chic Wife tells us how to use…

Kris Schoels, aka The Chic Wife, grew up on a farm with peach trees. August is National Peach Month, but Kris Schoels doesn’t need a reason…