Barrow Street theatre


This poignant drama is somewhat reminiscent of the far better Tracy Letts play,  August:  Osage County.  But that is not a bad thing.  You can be very good and not measure up to August.

Brother Billy is deaf but doesn’t sign.  He resents his parents for not learning to sign which somehow kept him from learning.  He hooks up with a woman who does sign but is not deaf - yet.  She learned because her parents were.  Now she, Sylvia, is losing her hearing, and she makes the distinction between knowing what hearing is and then losing it, a process with which Billy can not be familiar. 

The other brother, Daniel has issues of his own disguised as auditory hallucinations.

The family patriarch, Christopher, treats both with denial.  ‘Don’t smoke pot and the hallucinations will go away,’ to Daniel.  We didn’t learn signing because we treated all of our children as equals and didn’t recognize handicaps.

Daughter Ruth has also returned to what is now a full nest after having been empty and she is just having a bad day - okay a bad life, but not unusually so.  Just can’t find a good boyfriend, good job, good place to live -you know:  life.

Still, Tribes does succeed, and as an off–Broadway play it doesn’t carry the big ticket price of a Broadway production.  Pretty well written, very well acted and directed and well above average.  It has been extended until January.  The Barrow Street Theatre is an intimate venue with no bad seats.  If you appreciate drama, this will be a very worthwhile experience for you.