Minefield at the Royal Court Theatre
A leading Argentinian playwright and director, Lola Arias has brought together British and Argentinine war veterans in a “social experiment”, to share their stories and experiences in the Falklands war in Minefield. True accounts are tempered by some fictional elements and some humour to create a compelling, highly emotional and very moving work.
In 1982 Argentina attempted to wrest control of the Falkland Islands, the Malvinos, from British sovereignty. The war inspired nationalist sentiment in Britain and enormously affected Argentina, whose defeat was the beginning of the end of Argentinian military dictatorship.
In English and Spanish with English subtitles, the play opens as the former military men, all in their 50s, enact a televised audition for a film about the Falklands War, followed by vivid testimony of experiences during the conflict, some horrific, as the British and Argentinian veterans alternately describe their history: “In Argentina, military service was obligatory until 1997. Many tried to get out of it by feigning illness.” “When I received my Green Beret I felt it was worth something.”
Minefield is far from just testimony, however. It is a very innovative work that unites unexpected and contrasting elements to create an informative, entertaining and emotionally powerful collage. Combining humour with accounts of immense suffering and sadness the play is also an historical exposé, with an intensity accented by music and a huge video screen.
The rock band is terrific, the veterans surprisingly first-rate musicians. Much anger and pain is expressed through the music. The excellent drummer (Ruben Francisco Otero) does an intense piece, thrashing on the drums, shouting about the numbers killed on his bombed ship, with a video-montage shaking behind him. In the powerful final scene, the band plays loud rock as lights flash like bombs exploding, and one of them shouts “Would you send your sons and daughters to war? … Have you ever killed anyone? Have you ever seen anyone die? Have you seen your friends commit suicide? Have you ever held a dying man in your arms?”
Accenting the madness of war and its human suffering, Minefield also highlights the lack of consideration of its trauma to war veterans. Above all, the play is about love versus hate, as expressed in the line “Years ago we wanted to kill each other. Now we are friends. I love them”.
About a crucial topic for humanity, Minefield is a beautiful, very emotionally moving, well conceived, significant work.
Minefield is on at Royal Court Theatre from 2nd until 11th June 2016 as part of the LIFT Festival, for further information or to book visit here.
For further information about LIFT Festival visit here.
Watch the trailer for Minefield here: