MINEFIELD | STAGE REVIEW
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Thu 5 Apr 2018
There’s a part of me that wishes this wasn’t one of the best stage performances I’ve ever seen.
It’s easier to throw out negative reviews because harsh critique has come to suggest a degree of honesty, whereas comments like “brilliant”, “superb”, “excellent” get discredited as being superfluous or flattery. Well, Minefield was brilliant and superb and excellent, and that’s all there is to it.
I’m unsure as to which element of the production I found most impressive. The thorough and informative approach to relaying the history of the Falklands war? The musical talent of the performers? The humility and compassion they show to one another? Their willingness to question themselves and the very infrastructure of war? All of these would be suitable answers, but I think it was the way in which all of these elements were woven together with taste, theatrical flair, passion, and with unwavering humour throughout.
Written by Argentinian-born Lola Arias, Minefield presents six veterans from the Falklands/Malvinas war, three from each side. Once on opposing sides in battle, sure that their hatred for the other side would fuel them for life, the men now stand side-by-side on stage to bring to life their memories, experiences and feelings about the war.
Minefield retains a startling focus on the inhumanity of war. The production took place on a utilitarian stage where the men themselves brought their stories to life rather than by use of any theatrical tricks.
The veterans speak only in their own language, with a projection above the stage subtitling either the English or the Spanish translations accordingly. Initially, I found this jarring, as if I was being removed from the drama. However, I came to find that it improved my experience, as it showed how deeply personal each story was and ensured no experience was lost through speaking an unfamiliar language.
The pure humanity and authenticity of the production transformed a room of wigs, musical instruments, a smoke machine and scaffolding into a world of fear, political propaganda, brutality and emotion.
words MEGAN THOMAS