Flat Pack Furnished Flat

August 10, 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆     Strong performances

Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236): Fri 5 – Sat 27 Aug 2022
Review by Tom Ralphs

Flat Pack Furnished Flat, at Greenside @ Infirmary Street for the full fringe, follows a mother and daughter as one of them moves into a new flat.

Over the course of the day, while they wait for a delivery van that shows no signs of appearing, the cracks in their seemingly strong relationship are exposed and exploited.

Allison Mickelson as Susan in Flat Pack Furnished Flat. Pic: Emyr Cooper

The script by Emyr Cooper, who also directs, plays with our expectations in the opening scene. It seems as if it is the daughter who’s moving, looking around the flat and the street outside, assessing its potential and its limitations as her mother puts a different spin on the surroundings. It’s only as the scene progresses that we realise it’s the mother who is moving in and moving on, having split up with her husband.

Anne Yeomans plays the daughter Jenny and Allison Mickelson plays her mother Susan. It’s a role that Mickelson only took on two days earlier when the previous actor had to drop out. If Yeomans didn’t tell you this at the end of the show, you would never realise.

Mickelson inhabits her character to perfection, with a spirit of independence and defiance offset by a clear vulnerability and a feeling that her confidence is as much to convince herself that she has made the right move as it is to dispel her daughter’s criticisms.

a world of possibilities

Yeomans also gives a strong performance as Jenny, investing her with a youthful exuberance and enthusiasm that suggests a belief in  that may exist for her, while equally hinting that she is trying to interpret the facts of her life in a way that can support this belief.

Over the course of 50 minutes, through a series of set piece scenes, Jenny and Susan’s relationship deteriorates. What begins with friendly conversation and recollection of Jenny’s childhood and her gap year, leads on to more strained conversations as judgment and justifications enter the frame.

When the conversation reaches the present day and the subject of Jenny’s older boyfriend, the stakes are raised higher. Claims, counterclaims and accusations then become the dominant feature as attention switches to Susan’s decision to start a new life.

Anne Yeomans as Jenny and Allison Mickelson as Susan in Flat Pack Furnished Flat. Pic: Emyr Cooper

Each scene works well in its own right, and Cooper’s direction allows the actors to make the most of the large stage and minimal set, but there isn’t a convincing thread tying them all together.

The early closeness and conversation that sounds like two friends rather than a mother and daughter, doesn’t have the hints of tension that are needed to make the falling out seem like the product of simmering, long suppressed, resentments.

The trigger points run dangerously close to cliché, particularly when Susan’s relationship with Jenny’s boyfriend is revealed, and the resolution feels equally rushed and unearned.

The end impression is a play that feels more like a series of promising workshop sessions than a single coherent storyline with a convincing narrative arc. It has great potential, but hasn’t delivered on this as yet.

Running time: 50 minutes (no interval)
Greenside @ Infirmary Street, (Mint Studio) 6 Infirmary Street, EH1 1LT (Venue 236)
Friday 5 to Saturday 27 August 2022 (not Sundays)
Evenings: 22.00.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Company Twitter: @EmyrCooper

Anne Yeomans as Jenny in Flat Pack Furnished Flat. Pic: Emyr Cooper

ENDS

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