Otero, who survived the sinking of his Argentine warship in the 1982 war with the British over the Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas in Spanish), delivers a blistering drum solo in “Minefield,” the final show in Walker Art Center’s 2019 Out There series.
The powerful solo comes in the middle of a 95-minute work that evokes the war with testimonials, images and videos.
“Minefield” offers a different kind of theater performance. Adventurous theater-maker Lola Arias, who created and directs the show, gathered six veterans of the war — three each from the British and Argentine sides — to share their stories.
It’s a work that’s dry and wry without an ounce of theatrical pretension.
“The war lasted 74 days,” one of the soldier-performers tells us in Spanish (with surtitles). “The rehearsal for this show has lasted longer.”
The set of “Minefield” looks like a movie studio. There are several cameras that are used to project the speakers’ faces on-screen. The language is terse and often deadpan.
Shows about wars and veterans usually reach for epic lessons and for pithy, emotive Ken Burns-style wisdom. Not “Minefield.” The ex-fighters-turned-performers are presented for what they are: ordinary men swept up in the tide of history over islands that have been in dispute for hundreds of years.
The British performers onstage at the Walker are former Royal Marine David Jackson, now a psychotherapist; Lou Armour, also a Royal Marine commando who, postwar, became an ardent lover of art; and Sukrim Rai, a member of famed Gurkha Rifle battalion who now works in security.
In addition to Otero, the Argentine vets are Marcelo Vallejo, a triathlete who manned a mortar during the war, and lawyer Gabriel Sagastume, who fought in the Battle of Wireless Ridge — a clash seared in his memory while meaning nothing to all but a smattering of people.
And that’s the point. These men are survivors of a conflict that scarred them but registers as a blip at best to most of the world. And the flow of human history and experiences, grand and ordinary, continues.
In all of it, we would be so lucky to cope like these men do, and have. After battling their demons, they’ve come together onstage in what looks like groovy healing. They have poured all of their memories, and all the things that haunt them, into making rock ’n’ roll. The music grounds the men, and their show, into an expansive expression — and it asserts their still-yearning humanity.