Counting and Cracking evaluation — epic household drama performs out in opposition to Sri Lankan political strife

A transporting fug of incense fills the auditorium throughout S Shakthidharan’s epic play Counting and Cracking, which attracts on the tales of his family in each Sri Lanka and Australia. Hailing from Sydney’s Belvoir St Theatre and now enjoying on the Lyceum as a part of the Edinburgh Worldwide Competition, that is wealthy, heady, memorable stuff, made taut by political battle and the unignorable tug of household ties.

In Sydney in 2004, 21-year-old authorial stand-in Siddhartha (Shiv Palekar) is scattering his grandmother’s ashes within the river, guided by means of this Sri Lankan ritual by his annoyed mom, Radha (Nadie Kammallaweera). She’s bewildered by this totally Australian baby she’s raised and by his media research diploma: “What does that imply, finding out research?” she asks. However Siddhartha’s consideration is monopolised by Lily (Abbie Lee Lewis), an Indigenous Australian Yolngu legislation scholar he woos by starlight, as they swap tales of their household traditions. In her personal modest means, Radha can be embracing Sydney life, cautiously flirting with the Turkish engineer who’s becoming her air-con unit. Then a telephone name comes that drags Radha and Siddhartha again to the previous, to the Sri Lanka they thought they’d left behind.

A pacy succession of scenes set between the Fifties and Eighties sketches the origins of Sri Lanka’s civil struggle, seen by means of the story of Radha’s household. The grandfather she is aware of as Apah (Prakash Belawadi) is a number one Tamil politician in a nation the place the stability of energy is quickly shifting in direction of the Sinhalese majority. He rails in opposition to the rise of nationalist sentiment on each side, turning into a political island because the Tamil Tigers marshal their forces in opposition to an authoritarian authorities.

The contours of this story are advanced however its emotional enchantment is straightforward. In a single memorable scene, the younger Radha (an impassioned Vaishnavi Suryaprakash) interrupts her household’s advanced political debates by handcuffing herself to her grandfather’s chair, refusing to desert her protest till he permits her to marry for love, not political alliance. As violence surges, Radha is left with a painful selection. Ought to she keep, cowering among the many wreckage of her desires of a harmonious, multicultural Sri Lanka? Or ought to she go, leaving all the pieces she is aware of behind?

Director Eamon Flack’s multilingual (English, Tamil and Sinhalese) manufacturing makes use of a combination of splendour and wit to maintain its viewers’s consideration because the characters and problems multiply. Sri Lankan musicians play along with the stage, soundtracking the motion in wealthy, juddering waves of sound, often utilizing a fragile conventional flute to imitate Skype’s acquainted ringtone. Siddhartha and Lily escape their struggles to hurl themselves joyfully throughout the stage on a large foamy slip-and-slide.

As each Australia and the UK grow to be ever extra unwelcoming to refugees, Counting and Cracking affords a delicate however insistent plea for humanity. It’s unattainable to not hear, rapt.

★★★★☆

To August 14, eif.co.uk, then August 19-27, Birmingham Rep, birmingham-rep.co.uk

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