Overshadowed and rarely discussed historically, Minefield examines the personal lives of some Falkland War veterans and their willingness to reflect and share some rather visual events of their past to a viewing audience. One can only imagine the journey these young men (at the time of war) must have had to deal with, digging into the psychological and even haunting effects of the battlefield.
You could quite clearly see the honesty, emotion, memory and without doubt the longing to share such intimate events and this really feeds throughout the entirety of the casts work. This gives the piece an extra layer of depth and meaning, impacting audience members no matter how old that lives do change as a result of war.
The stage is surprisingly basic compared to other Royal Court performances, yet gives the veterans the space and freedom to share their experiences without to many theatrical gimmicks. I find the screen located behind the cast, displaying pictures of the veterans past life at war, a cleverly utilised piece of set as it allows one to visualise past events and make direct links to what is happening on stage at present. The unity between the English, Argentinian and Nepalese storytellers on stage is admirable and, although speaking in their own language, one feels they could understand just by watching their physicality and emotions. The use of language is a powerful tool in this new work and connects you more personally to each individual’s story, not just the voices you are used to hearing every day. Good really as the subtitle boards displaying the translations above the stage are either too fast or at points seem to not be working properly, annoying yet irrelevant if you listen closely enough to the cast.
The production does reference that of the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher and her Argentinian rival at the time Leopoldo Galtieri, mimicking their image and attitude as world leaders. This becomes ever more impactful with past recordings from the Falkland War echoeing into the space, in which to support the costumed actors on stage who copy the leader’s physicality. A moment of real comedic value for me has to be the male veteran dressed as Thatcher, wearing fish net tights, stuffed breasts that I believe Thatcher would have been delighted with and a mask that displays her ever famous hairstyle. You have to be a brave man to take on Thatcher and he does it with real fun and gusto, giving the piece a slightly more amusing edge.
Overall, Minefield is purely and simply honest and not so much a ‘play’ as a story that teleports you thousands of miles to a different country, world and culture. Seeing both sides come together and tell each other’s personal and patriotic stories openly to each other is a real treat and it’s quite touching for those who remember this event clearly. Audience members are teary and as a result standing ovations are the least these gentlemen deserve after allowing us inside their personal experiences during the war. Unlike theatre there is no acting involved but rather the chance to be impacted by our countries somewhat hidden history, Lola Arias has demonstrated her keen interest in this area and as a result allowed theatre to be a platform for change and reflection. One word, Impactful!
Review written by Luke Redhead.
Minefield is currently showing at the Royal Court Theatre until Sunday 11th June as part of this year’s LIFT festival. To find out more about the production, visit here…