Minefields and Miniskirts packs an emotional punch. For those who have lived in a secure bubble shielded from the horrors of war, this play will rock your foundations. For those who have experienced war firsthand, this play may stir emotions buried and forgotten. Minefields and Miniskirts is a play about how the Vietnam War affected the lives of five very young Australian women. Stirred by the excitement of adventure in a foreign country, four of the five women felt compelled to volunteer their services in a country ravished by war.
Eve (Rebecca Bradley) escaped from a prearranged marriage, to a nice Christian boy from the church she grew up in, just prior to the wedding day. Kathy (Kaela Gray) who comes from a family of doctors chose to serve as a nurse. Sandy's (Katherine Armon) fate after coming second in a talent competition opened the door to performing for the troops in Vietnam. Ruth, (Naomi Thompson) a fiery, passionate journalist wedged between writing fashion articles and recipes for a women's magazine snapped up a challenge to fly to Vietnam to report on the happenings on the frontline. Margaret (Gillian Crow) who never set foot in Vietnam experienced the aftermath of war at home. She had just three days of wedded bliss before her cherished young husband was sent off to fight and was later returned to her emotionally damaged beyond repair.
Minefields and Miniskirts begins with real visual footage of the Vietnam War presented on a screen. It sets the scene for the stories these women are about to share. The audience is taken on an emotional journey that begins with the buzzing enthusiasm of the women as they pack their suitcases ready for their adventure. The women, now middle-aged, each take turns in presenting their stories which are shared in snippets. 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 horrifying and feel like a stab to the heart as they are delivered with such emotion that it's difficult not to be affected.
Cast of Minefields & Miniskirts Image courtesy of Charlotte Armon
Although Minefields and Miniskirts is haunting and armed with shocking stories that range from torture; rape; decapitation; slaughter; opulence to extreme poverty; it's an incredible piece of history that is valuable and thought provoking. Under the direction of Gaye Gay the cast gave memorable performances that were charged with emotion. The heaviness of each story was softened by musical numbers such as 'Leaving on a Jet Plane', 'Amazing Grace', 'The Circle Game', and 'Saigon Bride', amongst others. I feel this play has allowed me to better understand the selfless bravery of those involved in the Vietnam War. Not only did it change the lives of these five women and how they saw the world from there on in, but by sharing their story it also opens our eyes.
I'm grateful to Siobhan McHugh for having penned these women's stories in her novel and Terence O'Connell for writing it for the stage. This play made me question what the war was about and why governments were able to draft young men to fight a war under blind obedience. This is the kind of play that should be performed in high schools so that the young and naïve are under no false illusions about the realities of war. These young women, who volunteered their services, didn't seem to have been prepped as to what they would experience during their time in Vietnam.
As a whole the play is presented with minimal props and a simple set design. Director, Gaye Gay created simple visual effects through the use of colour, subtle but effective sound and lighting and the strength of each actress's emotional performance. The power behind Minefields and Miniskirts lies in the dialogue. Hayden Bech's expertise, as Musical Director, certainly enhanced the production with subtle sounds of flute and other instruments. 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.
Image courtesy of Jacqx
Javeenbah Theatre is a small intimate, air-conditioned theatre located in Nerang. It is beautifully set up with tables and chairs al fresco where you can meet friends prior to the show and enjoy drinks and nibbles at the fully licensed bar. There is also comfortable seating indoors. Opening night tickets include a light supper after the show giving you an opportunity to socialise and meet the cast and crew. Javeenbah is an Aboriginal word meaning 'The Meeting Place'.
I recommend you book in as early as possible, especially if you are planning to go as a group, as Javeenbah is a small theatre with limited seating.