Subtle multi-media elements in Tribes offer a thoughtful sense of the differences in how these characters communicate. Supertitles projected above the stage frequently display translations of Sylvia’s signing, of Billy’s voice, and — most disarmingly — of what has been communicated when neither character has said anything in any formal language.

As turns out, no language is truly enough. Raine’s script covers an impressive amount of ground on some of our most fundamental questions about the nature and value of language, and how we are defined by those we are given or choose. Ultimately, this beautiful production of Tribes is a wise and uncommon exploration of how we try, fail, and can learn to hear each other.

TRIBES | by Nina Raine | directed by Christopher Grabowski | produced by Portland Stage Company, through April 13 | 207.774.0465 or

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