Tribes: Nina Raine
Royal Court Theatre,
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs,
London SW1W 8AS
Mon-Sat 7.30; Thurs, Sat mats 3.30pm
Runs 2hr 5mins with interval, to November 13
TICKETS 020 7565 -5000
In person: Mon–Sat, 10am-start of perf or 6pm if no show
Various concessions incl Mondays £10 and £6 for under 26s;
Limited free tickets for under 25s through Arts Council scheme
The box office has an accessible counter (75cm high) for wheelchair users.
Post-show talk: Nov 3, 7.30pm
Many captioned perfs: see website
Audio described Perf: Nov 3, 3.30pm
BSL interpreted perfs: Oct 23, Oct 25 2010 at 7.30pm and Nov 11, 3.30pm
Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen Oct 20, 2010
Political, controversial, occasionally sentimental.
Continuing with placing the middle classes under the theatrical microscope, artistic director Dominic Cooke has programmed another sardonic assault in Nina Raine’s Tribes. Where the previous incumbent on this stage, Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park (transferring to the West End in the New Year), focussed on race, Raine turns her fire on the British literati.
Raine broke into the front rank with Rabbit, a vituperative portrait of 30-something yuppies. Tribes has its wittily ugly side too.
As the play opens, Roger Michell’s production delivers a wall of sound; it’s the family – heavyweight academic and lacerating `cynic’ Dad, Christopher, novelist mother, Beth, and offspring Dan, Ruth and Billy squabbling noisily over supper.
High achieving parents, it shows, have had a devastating effect in the pot-smoking, borderline psychotic Dan – writing, symbolically as it turns out, a thesis about language – and wannabe opera singer Ruth. Billy has recently returned to the family fold.
By the end, Raine, rather beautifully, brings her characters into a ring of silence, cleansed of gunfire one-liners and intellectual niceties. Billy and Dan sit opposite each other declaring their simple need and love for each other. Language, Raine suggests is not about scoring verbal points but about communicating genuine feeling.
In between, we’ve witnessed a battlefield not only of familial dysfunctionalism but also deafness. Billy is deaf and Raine takes the opportunity, characteristically, to pierce the wall of political correctness that has grown up concerning signing and speaking. A highly political issue, Raine’s dramatisation couldn’t illustrate the arguments more vividly or controversially. Sympathies swing backwards and forwards.
Roger Michell’s production inevitably falls into the sentimentality of the hearing towards the deaf community. Nor is the creation of Billy’s girlfriend, Sylvia, the catalyst, entirely convincing despite a glowing performance from Michelle Terry alongside Jacob Casselden’s Billy, the sanest character on the stage.
If arguments have been heightened to make a point about communication and the tribes we inhabit (Billy’s family are like a gruesomely exaggerated modern equivalent of Coward’s Bliss family in Hay Fever), Billy and Sylvia are creations who ensure that audiences will go away moved and infinitely more enlightened and aware.
Daniel: Harry Treadaway
Beth: Kika Markham
Christopher: Stanley Townsend
Ruth: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Billy: Jacob Casselden
Sylvia: Michelle Terry
Director: Roger Michell
Designer: Mark Thompson
Lighting Designer: Rick Fisher
Sound Designer: John Leonard
Casting Director: Julia Horan
Assistant Director: Monique Sterling
Rehearsal Signer/Communications Suppoert: Lucy Scott
Voice Coaches: Jessica Higgs & Bardy Thomas
Video Designer: Jack James
Tribes was first performed at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs on October 14, 2010.