Be Prepared, Vault Festival – Review

Be Prepared - Edinburgh Fringe 2016 (Photo by The Other Richard)
Ian Bonar as Tom / © The Other Richard

Writer/performer Ian Bonar enters with a portable keyboard/organ. This immediately makes me think of James Rowland’s 100 Different Words For Love, which was performed in the same space last year. However, unlike Rowland’s calm, onstage persona, Bonar’s ‘Tom’ is visibly flustered. Returning from a funeral service, we piece together what Tom urgently wants to talk about – the life of Mr Matthew Chambers.

Grieving over the recent death of his father, Tom has been signed off work and remains housebound. Things could remain like that indefinitely, but he keeps on receiving phone calls from an elderly gentleman, wanting to speak to an undertaker. Despite Tom telling Mr Chambers that he has the wrong number, the phone calls continue, with Chambers now wanting to talk about his wife…

A large part of the charm of the show is ‘Tom’s’ self-deprecating nature and his ‘lesser efforts’… Bonar could have created a character that has no obvious quirks or history, but in ‘Tom’ we someone who is sensitive to the minutiae of life and able to see things from an outsider’s perspective.

Spending his formative years in the cubs and scouts, Tom’s former pastime sets him apart in his teens from his peers. As his father played a big part of his scouting days, Tom’s literally had to bury his ‘childhood’, and the distant memories of when he was last happy and fitted in. At an instinctive level, Tom knows that he has some things in common with Mr Chambers and that by helping to tell his story, he’s telling his own too…

© Michael Davis 2018

Be Prepared runs at the Vault Festival until 11th February.

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