Tribes Review


This afternoon I went to see Sheffield Theatres’ production of Nina Raine’s play Tribes. Directed by Kate Hewitt, this production of the play was a hugely successful one with a phenomenal cast, brilliant use of technical elements and a simple but effective set.

The show had some brilliant lighting designed by Paul Keogan and awesome projections designed by Andrzej Goulding which both worked to really heighten the impact of the piece, alongside some incredible use of sound designed and composed by George Dennis.

Tribes tells the story of Billy, a boy born deaf into a family who has remained very sheltered all his life, and when he meets Sylvia he begins to learn about himself and the world in a true light.

Polly Jerrold, casting director, assembled a stunning cast for this intimate play who not only looked like they could be a family but truly showed that familial relationship.

Lindy Whiteford made a wonderful Beth, mother of the family, and really did portray the character who held the family together very well. Simon Rouse did a brilliant job as Christopher, the father of the family. He nailed the character making him perfectly unlikeable because of how unaccepting the character is. Louisa Connolly-Burnham was the perfect Ruth, daughter of the family, who portrayed the aspiring singer amazingly and had a heartwarming on stage relationship with Oliver Johnstone who played her brother, Dan.

Ciaran Alexander Stewart played the central character Billy and he was perfectly cast in the role. His performance really challenged theatrical expectations when he demonstrated some of the greatest acting I’d seen but all through sign language rather than dialogue. The mix of dialogue and sign language along with captions, for the most part, worked incredibly well. Emily Howlett impressed in the role of Sylvia, Billy’s first girlfriend. Her chemistry with Ciaran was utterly beautiful – they were so believable as a romantic couple.

Stealing the show with a truly phenomenal performance in the role of Dan was Oliver Johnstone. His performance was heartwrenching yet heartwarming. Moments were difficult to watch simply because of how perfectly he brought them to life. His rapport with on stage brother Billy (Ciaran Alexander Stuart) was so realistic, as were his relationships with the rest of the characters.

This show is so important and informative, as well as heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time. I would strongly reccommend this show.

Tribes runs at the Crucible Studio until Saturday 21st July.


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