Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Minefield

Lola Arias
LIFT
HOME, Manchester
12 April 2018 to 14 April 2018

Minefield, from LIFT and performed at HOME as part of the ¡Viva! Spanish/Latin American Festival, explores the effect of the 1982 Falklands War/Guerra del Atlántico Sur on three British and three Argentine soldiers. The six men that perform all served in the war, and their testimonies about the effects both at the time and subsequently are revealing and moving.

Structurally the play has a devised feel, and moves between short scenes that address elements of the conflict and the psychological effects of the war on each soldier. For a play about war it’s remarkably quiet, using music to provide the anger and texture in the narrative. Soldiers play their leaders, Thatcher and Galtieri, in a couple of surreal but highly effective scenes.

What is so compelling about this production is that the six performers on stage were, in their own lives, living with the very real consequences of war. There is an openness that is overwhelming, even when that openness is to acknowledge a pretence, a coping mechanism.

The experiences of each of the six soldiers is highly personal. It is impossible not to be moved by Marcelo’s account, during a reconstruction of a session with a psychologist, of the lack of opportunities and support after the war ended. Ruben’s account of his journey from the sinking of the General Belgrano to Beatles tribute band. Lou’s struggle to deal with the memory of a dying Argentine soldier who spoke to him in English about Oxford.

There is a real honesty, with no one pretending to be anything more than men that have been through an experience that few of us can really comprehend, and who were trying to address the consequences in the only way they knew how. Their bravery lies in how they deal with the horror, but not only on the field of battle; it’s about what’s happening within their minds many years after the war has ended.

This was one of the most original, organic and authentic plays I’ve seen. You can tell that the story came from the actors' own experiences, and see how difficult the devising/rehearsal process must have been. Actors speak in their native tongues (with translation) to highlight the confusion and lack of understanding. But it’s also incredibly powerful and fulfilling to watch, knowing exactly what the process of making this piece of theatre must have meant to the six performers.

Links to HOME and ¡Viva! here.

Reviewer: David Murray

Comments

Comment by David Cunningham

Minefield from writer / director Lola Arias takes the audacious approach of analysing the Falkland’s war from the viewpoint of six Argentine and British veterans of the conflict. UK audiences tend to treat the war as a political or moral issue so reviewing events through the perception of the veterans pushes us outside our normal comfort zone.

If Minefield is not ‘political theatre’ there is certainly a sense in which it is theatre as a form of therapy. The cast openly discuss aspects of the conflict that haunt them; Lou Armour, who was captured by the Argentinians, admits to feeling he somehow let down his colleagues by being filmed getting upset talking about the death of an enemy combatant. David Jackson, who has re-trained as a counsellor, at one point, offers his professional advice to Marcelo Vallejo

Minefield compels audiences to look at a subject that they may regard as over-familiar from the viewpoint of people whose opinions may have been overlooked making for a strong, if occasionally disconcerting, show.