It’s hard to tell what kind of show
An incredibly ambitious and clever piece of post-dramatic theatre
Viewed as a piece of political documentary-theatre, it’s incredibly intellectually stimulating as we’re provided with a whole host of different experiences, from soldiers who were conscripted to those who joined of their own accord. This is aided by some visually striking uses of live-filmed projections in which the veterans film and interview each other and present photos and documentary footage from the Falklands/Malvinas.
This otherwise strong theme is complicated by the performance’s overt attempts to draw its main focus onto the veterans themselves, bringing the performance into the distinct realms of drama-therapy, as it examines their lives following the war and how they both have and haven’t moved on. There are some interesting moments, including a point in which one of the British soldiers recounts the story of an Argentine soldier dying in his arms with the calm, matter-of-fact tone of a BBC presenter right after showing us a video of himself recounting the same story 30 years ago in which he broke down in tears. It’s a striking comment on how we move on and bury our emotions.
The use of these two distinct approaches to post-conflict theatre results in a very disjointed overall dramaturgy, equally denying the audience and veterans true catharsis, presumably to avoid simple resolutions or easy-to-digest arguments considering the complexity of the subject matter. While it’s understandable from this point of view, as well as out of respect for the veterans’ own boundaries of what they’re prepared to do and share onstage, it is ultimately frustrating to have so many issues raised, partially explored and then ignored. It makes sense on a conceptual level but the jury’s out in terms of how effective it is.
I will admit that my own, recent, experience of living in Argentina this year has undoubtedly influenced my own response to MINEFIELD. As a nation the UK doesn’t remember or particularly care about the Falklands/Malvinas conflict, which is also only partially explored in the piece, and as a result of having had to confront our history there was a part of me that wished it would go further in its analysis of not only the conflict but also how the two countries remember it.
At the end of the day Arias and the veterans have created an incredibly ambitious and clever piece of post-dramatic theatre but it feels like in trying to please everyone and avoid offending either side they have limited their own potential.