New York | 1h 10m | Already closed

Counting Sheep

From 13 critic and 64 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Intense, Resonant

About the show

After a successful international festival run, this Ukrainian guerrilla folk-opera comes to New York. An immersive theatrical experience that brings audiences inside the heart of the 2013-2014 Ukrainian revolution. More…

'Counting Sheep' offers a deeply personal retelling of the popular uprising. It gives you a visceral view into the lived experiences of those who were involved in the Maidan revolution. The 12-member cast envelops audience members  as they perform moments of revolution while immersed in projections of real-life news coverage and found-footage. A striking, visceral exploration into the politics of revolution, 'Counting Sheep' is a call-to-action and affirmation of the human condition that invites audiences to be part of the Revolution.

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"Immersive theater at its very best...The audience experiences a visceral rather than a complete or detailed picture of the story into which it has been swept up. Three things, it would seem, were required, then, to speak the burning truth of the Maidan revolution...Most important of all, it must place the audience not outside but inside the action of the revolution itself...For all of its brilliant chaos, energy, irreverence, and passion, 'Counting Sheep' is a work of great delicacy." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“A highly inventive performance piece, staged with urgency and clarity...The closest most of us will ever get to being caught up in the tumult and the electrifying energy of a government-shaking protest...A headfirst plunge into the experience of a people spontaneously pushing back against a government that is betraying their interests...These intensely committed performers have shaken us out of our daily reality, making us wonder how much we would risk to challenge the status quo.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“The self-described ‘immersive guerrilla folk opera’ is extremely effective....It’s an amazing experience...Thanks to the dramatic projected imagery, and the immersion into what is happening, the audience gets to briefly glimpse the highs and lows of political activism...'Counting Sheep' reminds us that we are the change we’ve been waiting for. It's simply up to us to seize the challenge.” Full Review

Village Voice

"Unsettling, loose in parts, but ultimately effective, this experience will get you thinking about community, collaboration, revolt, violence, and peace...Though there are moments of genuine trepidation, sometimes the slackness of the production weakens the impact. Tableaux battles between police and protesters lack gravity...The participation, so central to the show, can, too, be briefly awkward...But that is all part of the messily rewarding process." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"It delivers as advertised on the immersive folk opera front. Its guerrilla credentials are a little shaky, but that’s probably for the best...Kevin Newbury gets high-octane interactive performances from his game troupe and displays an innate sense of crowd dynamics. 'Counting Sheep' works well as a euphoric party in the context of a crusade for socio-political change, but it doesn’t do a whole lot to give that crusade historical context or even define what the crusade is." Full Review

The New York Times

“The language barrier is a persistent frustration in this participatory multimedia production, performed in Ukrainian and pulsing with live music by the excellent Lemon Bucket Orkestra...The show hasn’t mastered one of the fundamentals of immersive theater...Just like actors, audience members need to know their roles...For the audience, neither the passion nor the threat is real, and for us to feign it feels hollow — like playing at someone else’s protest while the world burns." Full Review

The Wee Review

for a previous production "It’s frightening and as real as it can be as we join the revolution...But it’s more than that. It’s a stark reality, a warning. This is real life, a reflection of humanity and the world that we are living in...We are completely immersed into their experience, their history and the civil war that is still going on today...An astonishingly important, eye-opening, thought-provoking event to attend...We are the spectators of an unimaginable experience. This is theatre, as well as a lesson." Full Review

British Theatre Guide

for a previous production "Lights go off and then flicker on to show us various tableaux of conflict. At times, we build barricades, chuck bricks, and pass out helmets in this cleverly choreographed production...The show is an exciting, interactive event with many striking visual scenes. At times it resembles a stylized party...You won’t learn much about the political conflict and you may even disagree with the revolution depicted but you will certainly enjoy being part of this dramatic recreation." Full Review

The Star

for a previous production "A recreation of the square itself is made, the present community becoming one with the community of Ukrainian protesters. 'Counting Sheep' is a wondrous experiential work that is engaging, fun, alarming, joyous and thought-provoking. By being directly involved with the work’s unfolding narrative, audience members are forced to confront their own feelings around engagement, community, and the nature of theatre itself." Full Review

Plays to See

for a previous production "As much a celebration of Ukrainian culture as it is a tragic reconstruction of the events...There’s a peculiar disparity between the violence on the screens and the warmth of the ensemble...It’s an excellent piece of theatre...The final message of 'Counting Sheep'–that the conflict is not over–serves as an unsettling reminder of how quick we are to lose interest in conflicts once the initial drama is over, and of the deep relevance and importance of this show." Full Review

What's On Stage (UK)

for a previous production "Immersive isn't quite right. It's closer to the forum theatre of Augusto Boal. We're spect-actors in a simulation–and it's impossible to lose sight of that...Even in this controlled environment, your stomach knots, your adrenaline surges, your body clenches for the fight. It's powerful, play-acting...Screens surround you with scenes from Maidan Square. It's incredibly involving...In its midst, you get a sense of what the reality might be like." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

for a previous production "This mixture of the passive and the active ends up being the show’s most tricky element. As an experience it’s undeniably powerful and affecting, but it has its own narrative arc, too. It’s a potent and thought-provoking, if at times difficult, piece. The skill with which it’s been created is clear though; the way it fills the space, the way it uses music, and the way it imparts an understanding that this story is part of something larger and far from over." Full Review

Edinburgh Festivals

for a previous production "The singing is incredible, both emotive and haunting...This is immersive theatre: the audience are not there to passively witness the revolution, they are part of it...There is no personal story to latch onto, which can lead to dips in the narrative, but also encourages engagement with the revolution as a movement. The focus is on the collective rather than the individual in a work that is not only exciting but an exposé of stories not making the news." Full Review

Great singing, Relevant, Resonant, Must see, Masterful

See it if you want to se the best immersive historic play of the year. It is original, contemporary, important to watch.

Don't see it if you don't want to learn about Ukrainian history and revolution.

Also This play is based on 2014 The Love Revolution from the Russians. It i... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Profound, Resonant

See it if you want to have a unique, and profoundly moving experience

Don't see it if you have adverse feelings about immersive storytelling

Also The music is stunning, the video work is captivating, and not a moment... Read more Read less

Resonant, Profound, Great staging, Great singing, Epic

See it if You like Slavic music. You are interested in modern history.

Don't see it if You don't like immersive theater.

Also Really a great show. I could have added 10 more adjectives.

Relevant, Ambitious, Resonant, Great music, Immersive for good reason (ok to opt out tho)

See it if u want to participate (or watch others do so). U're interested in Slavic music, protests/revolutions, the Ukraine, or being a global citizen

Don't see it if you want traditional theater. You have no interest in international affairs or what happens outside the US.

Also Powerful reminder the war btwn the Ukraine/Russia is Not Over. War rag... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Dizzying, Relevant, Intense, Edgy

See it if You're interested in recent Ukranian history or you like kasha (they feed you!).

Don't see it if Productions in languages other than English bother you or you don't enjoy interactive shows.

Also "The war is not over."

Absorbing, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if You enjoy immersive theater - dancing with characters, eating free borscht soup & pierogis, hearing poignant songs, & large video screens.

Don't see it if You prefer a traditional theater environment.

Intelligent, Profound, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if If you want to be fully involved in a piece of theatre or if you really believe in the importance of political theatre.

Don't see it if If you want a sparkly story with a happy ending.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great singing, Must see, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy immersive theater, this is a must see. Counting Sheep manages to turn major world events into a deeply personal piece of theater.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy being a part of the performance. This is a very immersive piece.

Exquisite, Great staging, Edgy, Intense, Resonant

See it if You love immersive theatre. This show is beautiful and it's as immersive as it gets. EVERYBODY in the audience is on their feet and part.

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with VERY immersive theatre.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Entertaining, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy immersive theater as you will be part of the show.

Don't see it if you want traditional theater play.

Also there is delicious Ukrainian food available during play.

Entertaining, Immersive, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Delightful

See it if A geopolitical song and dance show agrees with you. The spirit of the recent Ukrainian uprising is captured in this delightfully somber show

Don't see it if One does not want to be involved in the show. Audience participation plays a large role in the show’s attraction and experience.

Great singing, Relevant, Intense, Ambitious, Exciting

See it if you like immersive theatre, relevant political stories, you don't mind the whole show being sung in Ukranian.

Don't see it if you want a conventional piece of theatre, don't do well with strobe lights and loud music, want to know what is going on 100% of the time

Absorbing, Profound, Resonant, Ambitious

See it if You like immersive theater. You are right in a protest, a riot, a funeral, a celebration and dinner. It's powerful and moving.

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable being in the middle of the action. You can't handle simulated violence.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Refreshing

See it if you like to know a little more about contemporary history

Don't see it if you don't like immersive shows, history

Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Intelligent, Great staging

See it if you're interested in political & socially conscious theatre, & want a participatory experience which makes great use of staging & technology

Don't see it if you're looking for a traditional sit down experience or prefer more light entertainment which serves as escapism from politics

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Resonant

See it if current and important story told through a particularly creative immersive experience. Poignant and moving.

Don't see it if you don't care about immersive experiences, moving or participating.

Also What makes this immersive piece special is first, the theme and second... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Intense, Epic, Relevant, Educational

See it if you're interested in political revolutions and enjoy immersive, participatory theater.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in geopolitics, or if you like to stay in your seat.

Also Exciting and educational piece of "immersive" theater for the playgoer... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Cliched, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if you think you might be drawn into participating as part of the crowd. This isn't horribly exciting if you just watch from the bleachers.

Don't see it if you expect a coherent plot or deep analysis of events in Ukraine. You just want to stay and watch from your seats.

Also This largely felt as an experiment in trying to get the audience invol... Read more Read less

Refreshing, Innovative, Thought-provoking, Profound, Original

See it if you like to be a part of the action and are looking to experience something different as opposed to just watching.

Don't see it if you want to be a spectator and prefer a plot/characters to follow.

Also Counting Sheep is a unique experience. You are meant to be a part of t... Read more Read less

Relevant, Resonant, Quirky, Intense, Ambitious

See it if You like experimental theater with great singing and music. You want to be part of a story. You like politics/history.

Don't see it if If audience interaction freaks you out, if you need a coherent story/memorable characters. If the whole thing being in Ukrainian is bad.

Magnificent music, Colorful, Ambitious

See it if like Gogol Bordello, you will enjoy Lemon Bucket Orkestra and breathtaking choral arrangements in Ukrainian.

Don't see it if don't feel comfortable in a foreign language environment. If you don't like moving around, you can observe from the risers.

Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Confusing

See it if you want to see something different and want to be a part of the show; and if you enjoy something with recent historical relevance.

Don't see it if Mostly spoken in Ukrainian, you're sometimes guessing at what is going on. The show ends on a down note and with no resolution.

Confusing, Disappointing, Dizzying, Indulgent, Slow

See it if you love immersive theater.

Don't see it if you had enough of high school level involvement with theater and no longer need to be part of the "show."

Also Immersive theater is what this show is about and to its credit it's be... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Absorbing, Must see, Profound, Intense

See it if you enjoy a slightly different theatre experience. Great piece of immersive theatre!

Don't see it if you need everything spelled out to you.

During previews
Enchanting, Great singing, Masterful, Must see, Resonant

See it if you're a human. Everyone should go see this. Everyone.

Don't see it if you don't like political theatre? I honestly don't think there is a reason not to see it. It's moving and important. Please go see it.

Cast & Creatives (20)