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The Only Fun In Town Counting and Cracking at Birmingham's Rep Is Fearless and Fierce

The Only Fun In Town

Counting and Cracking at Birmingham's Rep Is Fearless and Fierce

by Ancient Champion, Columnist
first published: August, 2022
And then, in the course of a three hour show with two intermissions there was a food break. With free food! All the sights and sounds and now, the taste of Sri Lanka in downtown Theatreland, Birmingham UK too.

Counting and Cracking
Birmingham Rep
until August 27th

I’m pulling for the Air Conditioner guy. That’s possibly because I wholly lack empathy for the struggle since I am way too self absorbed for that. Oh, and I love a chancer. And the A/C guy is a charmer. He’s the clown, the momentary light relief in the course of three wholly immersive hours - epic and slight, in the company of the expansive and truly world class cast of Counting and Cracking, currently at the Rep in Birmingham.  

Counting and Cracking concerns the diasporic journey of Radha and the evolving fortunes of her native Sri Lanka, and of four generations of her Sri Lankan-Australian family through 1956 to 2004. It’s a romance within a revolution. From the beginning in 2004, at the water’s edge in Sydney, Australia, with Radha's son, Siddartha, and a parting - to the end, a union in 2004, and everything in between. Throughout the decades, the writer Shakthi and director Eamon Flack - shift time and place with immense dexterity and skill. The nineteen actors, playing some 50 characters, are drawn from half a dozen nations, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and France. They ask so many questions of the audience. And that astonishingly ambient live band… Oh man, it is of course a cornucopic delight. It’s a vast, fun, emotive and entertaining spectacle. 

And then, in the course of a three hour show with two intermissions there was a food break. With free food! All the sights and sounds and now, the taste of Sri Lanka in downtown Theatreland, Birmingham UK too. W… Wow!

Like a big budget didactic American movie though, the beautifully drawn characters can get swamped in the telling of the lessons of history. And my arse could’ve gotten into a problem area too had it not been for the ample padding of the Rep’s seats.

Counting and Cracking is playing to huge, appreciative crowds in Birmingham, unfortunately however, the run is all too short, so don’t dilly dally get your ticket while you can.

Leaving the theatre, I bumped into a beaming top Bearwood impresario in Yellow (TM), who has driven so much of the significant working class-cultural connections across the city wide arts events in 2022, they said they considered Counting and Cracking to be just about the best thing they’d seen at the Rep. It is a Totally Great three hours. Go Go Go.


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Ancient Champion
Columnist

Ancient Champion writes for OUTSIDELEFT, relentlessly records instrumental easy listening tracks, and is always completing the short story collection, Six Stories About Motoring Nowhere. More info at AncientChampion.com


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