Be Prepared at Underbelly
Writer and performer Ian Bonar’s one-man show is a literary experience, weaving a complexly layered story of richly painted relationships through simple spoken word. It utilises not much beyond an intimate setting, a keyboard, subtle lighting and sound effects to create its world.
The audience finds itself at a Quaker meeting shortly after the death of a Mr Chambers. Ian gets up to speak a few words, and we learn of the strange, brief way in which their lives collided. Different stories interlace, setting off Ian’s memories of his childhood and of his father’s death.
This is Bonar’s first full-length (but not most recent) play. Deeply personal, it even contains verbatim excerpts from his grandfather’s memoir. Such melancholy subject matter could make this a subdued show, but its ebb and flow keeps the audience on its toes; the tone switches from shy speech-making to high-energy recreations of the memories being described. The performer’s innocent eyes and affable nature make him personable and lend a poignant vulnerability to his tale. A particularly gut-wrenching moment describes his frustration at his father for not managing to offer him any last words that might have eased the pain of his death.
Big Belly, one of the venues that make up the Fringe’s famous Underbelly, is a rather bleak space that resembles the inside of an Anderson shelter and is accessed by a lonely stairwell above a café. Leaving behind the rumble of the Fringe festival to hear Ian’s story is a meditative experience.
Be Prepared is a sober and touching look at old age, fragility and the difficult search for resolution and meaning in death.
Be Prepared is on at Underbelly from 11th until 28th August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.