Now how to express my experience? [by James Wenley]
Tribes comes to Auckland’s stage with a babble of hype and expectation. Only playwright Nina Raine’s second play (after Rabbit which Silo performed in 2008 ), it’s something of an international critical darling after its debut at London’s Royal Court in 2010. Just last week it won New York Drama Desk’s Outstanding play award. So no question it would be good then, but just how much. Answer? Very good indeed.
One of the titular tribes in the play are a family (unencumbered by surname) an internally-warring yet deeply self-protective family made up of Dad Christopher (Michael Hurst), Mother Beth (Catherine Wilken), boomerang twenty-something kids Daniel (Emmett Skilton) and Ruth (Fern Sutherland), and youngest Billy (Leon Wadham) who, while being careful not define him as such, is deaf. The family have proudly bought him up in a ‘speaking’ environment, getting by with hearing aids and lip reading (a painfully slow learning process, credit to Mum).
This family’s default mode of communication, summed up by Christopher is: “Join in, have an argument”. Tribes launches us into a noisy family dinner; everyone speaking over the top of each other, getting their two cents in. It’s a revealing mixture of affection, annoyance and mocking that close familiarity breeds, and a very recognisable family dynamic indeed. But everyone? Billy, watching, processing, becomes my figure of attention, for the family are all but ignoring him. He says little, save for an odd “What are you talking about?”.
Rejoining the tribe [by Sharu Delilkan]
Although it has been almost four years since her Silo debut, Fern Sutherland still remembers the experience as if it were yesterday.
"It was my first gig out of [UNITEC] drama school and I was extremely nervous when I met Shane [Bosher]. I felt very insecure and was desperate to make a good impression," she admits.
That's when she played an old woman in Life is a Dream working with Bosher, who's directing Silo's latest show Tribes.
However in Tribes, playing Ruth the middle child of a bohemian, intellectual upper-middle-class British family, the 24-year-old Sutherland says she feels slightly more at ease and able to enjoy the process.
Dark and Twisted [by James Wenley]
After a string of collaborations and monologue directing, Thomas Sainsbury returns to The Basement with The Family Wilder, setting his style to the dark camp of the thriller genre’s twist and turns.
Harry McNaughton plays the softly-spoken writer Clive, who is tasked with writing the biography of Wilder Family patriarch and ruthless businessman Bill. Bill, played by Bruce Phillips, is Alasdair Thompson’s kind of bloke. Generally denigrating to anyone but himself and full of pithy put downs, especially towards his no-hoper children Art (Todd Emerson) and Elizabeth (Fern Sutherland). His son may be useless, but he would never stand for his daughter to take over the business. The loathsome Art and Elizabeth, despite being siblings, have something of a Macbeth/Lady Macbeth relationship, and are plotting to kill their father. Hapless Clive might just be the person they need to help them get away with it…
Yvette Parsons, always a treat onstage, rounds out the cast as the staunchly Christian housekeeper/personal assistant Hodge, fiercely loyal to her employer, and can carry a good song.