MINEFIELD

It’s hard to tell what kind of show MINEFIELD is trying to be. No one can deny that director, Lola Arias, is bold for choosing to have six veterans, three from each side of the Falklands/Malvinas war, appear together on stage to discuss their accounts of the war. No one could ask for a more honest, raw or complex account of the war, however, some of the further directorial decisions complicate the subject matter and show. This results in its audience being left with conflicting thoughts and feelings that are never quite resolved satisfactorily.

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.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

How can a soldier deal with memories of war? What memories do they repress – and which do they cherish?

Six Argentine and British veterans from both sides of the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas conflict come together for this remarkable show exploring the treacherous minefield of their memories, through theatre, film and live rock music.

MINEFIELD is an enthralling piece of documentary theatre by Argentinian actor and director Lola Arias – compassionate, cathartic and astonishingly moving. Performed to enormous acclaim in both Britain and Argentina, it takes us from the horrors of the battlefield to today’s uncertainties, with brutal honesty and startling humour.

Part of the International Festival and British Council season Spirit of '47

demands to be seen

The Times

astonishingly moving, sensitive and humane

Time Out

Contains strong language, nudity, smoke and haze effects, and strobe lighting

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