Billy was born deaf into a hearing family. He was raised inside its fiercely idiosyncratic and politically incorrect cocoon. He has adapted brilliantly to his family's unconventional ways, but they've never bothered to return the favor. It's not until he meets Sylvia, a young woman on the brink of deafness, that he finally understands what it means to be understood.
"…subtle and scintillating…Raine shrewdly builds [a] dense canopy of sound around Billy's silence, in order to make the narrative of his oppressive solitude and his subsequent liberation from it more than just a problem play about the hearing-impaired. TRIBES is as much about the tyranny of language as it is about the misery of not being able to hear it." —The New Yorker. "A smart, lively…play that asks us to hear how we hear, in silence as well as in speech." —NY Times. "There's so much going on in…TRIBES that it's almost overwhelming: intellect and sentiment, love and cruelty, witty zingers and biting put-downs. But in Nina Raine's dazzling play, too much is a good thing." —NY Post. "…bright and boldly provocative drama." —Associated Press. "What a pleasure it is to encounter Nina Raine's distinctive comedy-drama TRIBES. This story of what happens to a fiercely intellectual, relentlessly competitive, 'conventionally unconventional' (as one character puts it) English family when its youngest member, the sweet-natured Billy, who is deaf, steps into his maturity is ruthlessly unsentimental and well observed." —BackStage. "TRIBES made me excited about New York theatre again; I haven't been this knocked out by a play in a long time." —NYTheatre.com.