Adapted by Siobhan McHugh's book by Terence O'Connell
For those who have been shielded from the horrors of war, this play will change you forever. For those who have experienced war firsthand, this play may stir emotions long buried and forgotten. Minefields and Miniskirts is a play about how the Vietnam War affected the lives of five very young Australian women: Margaret, the Vet's wife (Pauline Davies), Sandy, the Entertainer (Madeleine Johns), Kathy, the Nurse (Phillipa Bowe), Eve, the Volunteer (Deborah Rubendra) and Ruth, the Journalist (Jacqueline Kerr). Stirred by the excitement of adventure in a foreign country, four of the five women felt compelled to volunteer their services and one woman was left back in Australia after her husband of 3 days was deployed to the war.
Throughout the play the audience is taken on an (extremely) emotional journey that begins with the enthusiasm of the women as they pack their suitcases ready for their adventure, one which they were not really prepared for. The women, now middle-aged, each take turns in presenting their stories which are shared in snippets one after the other. These stories have been recorded from real life events by women who were a part of the Vietnam War. Some of their stories are shocking and harrowing and are delivered with such emotion that it's difficult not to be affected.
With a cast of 5 incredible women who remain on stage pretty much the entire show it is hard not to get swept up in their stories and their emotions as their stories began to unfold and you learn more about their life and the harrowing ordeals these women went through. You could be forgiven for forgetting that they were 5 actors on stage relaying words from a script as each performance given was so heartfelt and real it was as if they all had each endured their character's journeys themselves. The commitment from these incredible women to their roles exceeded all my expectations and we felt every word they spoke and as an audience laughed and cried along with them as their stories unfolded. I cannot pick a standout amongst the cast as they were all equally as incredible as each other.
The most surprising element for me throughout the whole show was the singing. As I was expecting to see a play I was taken by surprise when the show was intertwined with classic songs from the 1960s. The songs were all sung acapella by the 5 women which added even more emotion to their stories. I am not sure if it was scripted this way but if it wasn't it was a stroke of genius by director Richard Rubendra as I feel backing tracks would have detracted from the meaning these songs had to each of the characters.
The set was simple with each character having their own "space" designed to reflect their personality and their occupation. They did from time to time cross each other’s spaces which also reflected how these women would forever be connected through the experiences they each shared. The lighting, sound and costume design were simple but effective and added to the whole experience.
This was an amazing production, with faultless, quality directing and acting. If you appreciate sheer quality, then this immensely moving play is for you. I'm certainly glad I experienced seeing the production of Minefields and Miniskirts. It's one of the reasons I love watching live theatre, to see actors bring stories to life before my eyes.
Minefields and Miniskirts is only one for one more weekend and as Redcliffe Musical Theatre is operating under Covid Safe guidelines their audience capacity is reduced so I suggest booking in early so you don't miss out on witnessing this incredible production firsthand.