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The Theatreguide.London Review

Counting Sheep
The Vaults  February-March 2019

Those lucky enough to see the bright, exciting 2016 Edinburgh production of Counting Sheep might wonder if the creators of the London version had seen it.

The audience are still part of events that include building barricades, waving placards and dancing with strangers to evoke the 2014 Ukrainian protests that changed the government and descended into civil war. But key changes have turned the spectacle of revolutionary upheaval into a mad rave involving lifting lots of sandbags and boxes.

In Edinburgh the show had a fast paced immediacy with its spectacular opening wave of protesters moving with musical accompaniment towards brutal police lines, their action prompting the audience sitting between to flee to the protesters' side. That pattern was repeated as film footage on huge screens showing the wider conflict led police into further attacks on our side. We were carried along by events. Never mind that the politics were always slightly hazy.

In London that immediacy is slowed by the addition of the amiable Canadian narrator Mark and his romantic encounters with Marichka who he repeatedly says he wants to bear his children. Their memories of 2014 don't illuminate the politics but do act as a brake on the theatrical pacing.

The projections seem less clear. There are no police, except a fleeting image on the wall, so our only reasons for running in circles or building a barricade are the instructions of the cast, not the pressure of events.

A stranger dancing with me said 'I don't understand what its all about and maybe that doesn't matter since politics has all gone to shit.'

The show is still fun and EU supporters will enjoy waving all those EU flags, but with its techno and what they call Balkan gypsy punk it is more of an eccentric party.

The tragic Ukrainian civil war is a consequence of a predatory unscrupulous EU and a defensive paranoid Russia.

Whether that's a view this company shares I wouldn't know. They are still partying to some damn fine music.

Keith McKenna

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Review -   Counting Sheep - The Vaults 2019