Like all Peppermint Creek shows, this one is well done and gives us plenty to think about. The script by Nina Raine did a great job of demonstrating the ways we fail to communicate, and then tied it up a little bit abruptly at the end with the "bow" of "love" — which is, of course, the underlying quest, the unexpressed.... the family we belong to in spite of ourselves.
Deb Keller directed a fine cast — and it was refreshing to see Peppermint's Artistic Director Chad Badgero on stage for a change embodying the challenging role of troubled brother, Daniel, suffering under overbearing dad's (Michael Hays) criticism and struggling to express himself and connect with his brother. Devin Faught was the heart of the play as the deaf brother, Billy, being introduced to sign language and the deaf "tribe" by the charming yet conflicted Sylvia (Megan Malusek) who has deaf parents and is going deaf, herself. Crysta Harper is the angst-ridden sister, Ruth, failing to find her voice as a singer, and Jackie Payne is the also-criticized novelist Mom, trying in vain to make the family "play nice" as they punch each other with words.
The set was beautiful and homey (Jeff Boerger) A couple scenes took place "elsewhere" which was a tad confusing, but they were set off by lighting, so we figured it out. Many scenes had sur-titles projected on the wall, translating sign language, and occasionally translating what people were thinking, but not saying. The music was divergent and evocative, from classical to Janis Joplin.
NOTE that the Friday, April 4 performance will be sign language interpreted.Tribes continues through April 5 at the Miller Performing Arts Center, 6025 Curry Lane, Lansing, MI 48911(off Miller Road, west of the Miller/South Cedar intersection) 8 pm Thur/Fri/Sat and Sunday March 30 only at 2.$15/ $10 student/seniorwww.peppermintcreek.org