DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Minefield – Northern Stage, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Writer: Lola Arias

Director: Lola Arias 

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez

Minefield? It certainly is, a minefield of real raw intimate personal revelations. Argentinian artist Lola Arias worked with six veterans from the 1982 Argentinian War to produce this multi-media show. It begins with each veteran introducing himself giving details of when and how he joined up. As these are not actors but ‘the real thing’, they initially relate the early facts of joining up in an even voice with very little pace; sounding almost like pure documentary.

As the play progresses, however, more disturbing facts are revealed, with increasing emotion. The men, talented musicians, break up the disclosures with various musical numbers, giving some relief to the intensity of the hard, distressing factual content.

Minefield was commissioned in 2014 by LIFT, before premiering at The Brighton Festival in 2016 and transferring to the Royal Court. It bravely brought three Falklands veterans and three Malvinas veterans who worked together to tell their story. They share memories, experiences, emotions and stories, in a natural, candid way. The more the story progresses, the more the emotions show through. The projections, real-life video recordings (Martin Borinni) and lighting (David Seldes) add to the drama and poignancy. 

This is not just about war but more importantly, the effect war leaves behind, and the indelible mark it leaves on the men involved and those around them. Marcelo, who turned to cocaine for eight years in an attempt to numb his brain before suffering long-term depression, relates his story in a soft, gentle voice which belies the horrific content of his revelations. The pain is still visible on his face. More veterans have committed suicide after the war than died in it. Minefield puts war on a human, accessible level, in a genuine direct way. The constant rawness of emotion grows, and without interval, this 100-minute performance leaves nowhere to hide.

“Some things that happened in the war, remain buried in the island”, just like some things remain buried in the men. As one veteran says, ”I control it (now) and tell it like a story”. Well, he says that…

Men who once fought each other as enemies, now work together as friends, showing these warriors are just ordinary citizens wishing to get on with their lives, no matter which ‘side’ they are on; so who really ‘wins’ in the end?

Near the end, there is a resounding rendition by the men of Would You Go to War. Hopefully, the instant and very well-deserved standing ovation from the full house is therapeutic to these brave veterans who bare their souls.

Runs until 24 March 2018 | Image: Tristram Kenton

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A minefield of emotional experiences

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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