Minefield review at Dome Corn Exchange, Brighton – ‘an exorcism’
This new piece by Argentine theatre-maker Lola Arias is an extraordinary exercise in the mining of memory and the staging of history. Co-created with six Falklands War veterans – three from each side – who also perform, Minefield explores the Malvinas conflict through a number of lenses, through Arias’ eyes, as a theatre-maker, and through theirs, both as the men who lived it and as the tellers of their own stories.
This is both theatre as therapy – it’s clear the process brought many things to the surface for the men involved – and a history lesson, shedding light on a war that while so recent also feels fixed in the past, the last war of its kind.
The men perform key moments from their war while surtitles relay the dialogue in Spanish and English depending on who is speaking. The men’s experiences are juxtaposed with the puff and rhetoric of politicians, who they also play, and the whole thing is occasionally gloriously disrupted by the roar of guitars and the thumping of drums. They are united by music; it sounds trite, but they are.
The process of making the piece sits close to the surface. The men discuss the scenes they were uncomfortable with re-enacting, the things they chose not to include. Every question that the show raises, about ownership and omission, it anticipates and addresses. It’s very careful in this regard – it takes care. A number of the participants are dealing with post traumatic stress of various kinds and their experiences of this are enfolded into the piece. The act of reliving and remembering is a potent one for all involved, in some cases akin to an exorcism.
The memories they relate are sometimes horrifying, sometimes silly, frequently emotive. It’s clear the war still lives within them all.