“Tribes” at ACT

“Tribes,” by Nina Raine now playing at ACT closes on March 26, and, if you haven’t already seen it, do yourself a favor and get tickets. It’s funny, deeply moving, and thought provoking.

This is an award-winning play, well produced here under the direction of John Langs, and featuring a splendid cast. It’s all about communication, how we hear or understand the people who are talking to us. Most of us listen. Some of us read lips or sign. In the hearing family on this stage there is one deaf member, Billy (brilliantly played by Joshua Castille, himself a member of the deaf community).

When Billy was an infant, his parents decided that they would do everything they could to overcome the limitations of his condition, so they made sure that he could read lips. They refused to have him taught sign language, believing that it would mark him as different, handicapped, not quite as good as hearing people.

Billy, became an accomplished lip reader and was never part of the deaf community. He “passed,” kind of like a light skinned child of parents of African American descent. His well-meaning parents removed him from what might have been his own community and inserted him into the hearing community. But then, a deaf sign-speaker enters their lives. The impact on Billy and his family is enormous.

This is a thought provoking and intense exploration of family, values, prejudices, and community. Yet it is also marvelously funny and performed by a splendid cast, including some of the best actors in Seattle. And, by the way, you’ll never hear a more beautiful and moving rendition of “Clair de Lune.”

Through March 26 at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle, (206-292-7676 or acttheatre.org).

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