BWW Review: MINEFIELD, Royal Court
They don't speak English, and the others don't speak Spanish. But despite this, they understand one another. Through their shared experience, six Falkland/Malvinas veterans discuss the different effects the war had on both sides. They used to encounter one another on the battlefield, but now they come face to face on the stage.
Following a sell-out 2016 run, Minefield returns to the Royal Court for just ten performances; before this, the show has toured internationally to critical acclaim. The six men share their memories of war with the audience. Aided by a projection, they show films, photos and figurines to demonstrate their collective experience.
What are veterans? They're heroes. They're survivors. These men take us on a journey of horror, warmth and love, with inspired humour and dedicated honesty. Watching these veterans perform is fascinating. Seeing how they naturally react to their raw disclosures poignantly puts across the urgency of the material.
The entire aesthetic of the piece is spot on. On the projection, mini toy soldiers are shown to demonstrate how the Malvinas raided a house and stole a pig, before stepping on a landmine. A performer whistles bird noises, whilst treading on pebbles to demonstrate the soldier's constant expedition. These images are equally beautiful and horrific.
The play makes bold statements. Through the use of a prosthetic Margaret Thatcher, questions of PTSD support are raised. More people have committed suicide since coming back from battle than those that died in the war. There's also a drag queen, and a live Beatles tribute band - all of these additions provide an unexpected delight.
But above everything else, Minefield poses the question of whether theatre has the power to create change. Can theatre generate catharsis? Maybe not for the audience in this case, but for the six veterans involved, it seems to have been a therapeutic process.
Lola Arias' production is a testament to the power of theatre. She highlights the arts' ability to heal, and cross cultural boundaries. This experience will stay with the audience for a while. It's a theatrical experiment that results in a human triumph.
Minefield at the Royal Court until 11 November
Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton