Minefield ****

Theatre

The Studio (Edinburgh International Festival)

August 6th to 9th

19.00

Is stunning and very moving show is the result of a collaboration between former soldiers on both sides of the 1982 Falklands War. Writer/director Lola Arias, who is also a visual artist and performer, has facilitated a unique experience for the public here.

Six former soldiers, three from each side, are involved. The show begins relatively gently, with the guys training and preparing. We learn about their roles in the war and what they are doing with their lives now. Lou Armour had his photo splashed across the world surrendering, and he now works as a teacher of children with learning disabilities. Ruben Otero survived the sinking of the Belgrano and is now a member of a Beatles tribute band. The guys form up as a band at times and provide some very hard hitting music.

David Jackson is clearly a very sane and steadying figure. He now works as a counsellor, listening to the experiences of other veterans. He became Thatcher at one point, then mentioned the women’s clothes he took with him, and does a little drag show and striptease for the other guys – and us. At one stage he listens to Marcelo Vallejo, who is now a triathlon champion, but who had PTSD problems for years, which had terrible effects on him and his relationships until he sought treatment. They mention the statistic that on both sides more veterans have committed suicide than died in the war.

The guys take us through the experience of the war, with a mine disaster, the result of their own side not saying where was mined, with the haunting experience of seeing men die, with the privations of war in Falkland conditions, and with political speeches from both sides interspersed.

The guys as a band sing “Go back” very fiercely – the song Ruben’s band is named after, and end with a song repeatedly declaiming “Were you there?” and expressing anger at what they have been through and what has been done to them. This is a show that takes you into the horror of war and does not fail to face the terrible effects war has on those who have to take part in it. It should be seen by all politicians who are tempted to “let slip the dogs of war.”

 

Tony Challis