Minefield, HOME Manchester
Argentinian director Lola Arias has brought together six veterans of The Falklands / Las Malvinas war in 1982 to take to the stage as a living breathing documentary. Three veterans are British and three are Argentine.
Through Minefield’s eclectic delivery of on-stage projectors, real items of clothing or magazines are showcased, live music and sound effects all delivered by the six performers the audience is immersed for just over an hour and a half of what life is like as a direct result of these men being part of war effort.
We hear their own accounts of where they were positioned, what the surrounding area was like, what the people around them were doing, what their roles were, what they learnt, the people they lost – but we also hear what life has been like since for these men. We hear of their struggles to adjust back to their family and non-military life, their suicide attempts, their therapy, what it was like to revisit during rehearsals and perhaps most forcefully their unrelenting anger.
It’s a timely reminder in the unstable political climate of today of a divisive war that led to the fall of Galtieri and that Argentinian government through Thatcher’s bullish moves against them. From both sides we hear of the huge amount of death in the relatively short period. We hear about how the Argentines were so young and underprepared alongside tales of Sukrim the British Ghurka and the rumours that preceded him that stopped the men from sleeping at night.
Ultimately the message I took home from Minefield was an early line in the piece, that started as oppositions but now they are ‘all veterans of the same war’. The piece is refreshingly told so equally between each side, verbally delivered in both Spanish and English with the help of subtitles. The stage is split into two equal halves spotlighting one veteran from each side at a time.
The difference in how history is written post-war is highlighted scathingly with speeches from both Thatcher and Galtieri crudely dressed in unflattering rubber masks. The media is rightly held to account for the lies and flourishes they birthed to the soldiers as the veterans guide us through places their stories appeared in the news and were used by the media, and what really happened behind the photos.
Minefield is a sobering account of the 1982 war that feels a lot like a flashback, with loud live music, strobe lighting, smoke machines and one hell of a drum solo. Its best feature is its candour and lack of artistic embellishment. At no point did Minefield feel contrived, or like anecdotes were included for effect or theatricality. These men are real veterans who lived through hell on Earth and our last old-fashioned war that was fought by men with bayonets, who have had to live with the consequences.