Flat Pack Furnished Flat isn’t polished. It is, essentially, 50 minutes of a domestic devoid of drama between a mother and daughter as they wait for the furniture to be delivered to the latter’s new flat. The atmosphere is more stale than tense, as young Jenny (Anne Yeomans) complains about many things – from online dating to students taking drugs to the risk of litter outside the flat. With regret, that delivery can’t come soon enough.
It’s clear that Jenny is meant to be a fairly unlikeable character, with her ageist remarks and general indignation and snootiness about most things in the world. The issue, however, is twofold: there is nothing relatable or redeeming within the protagonist which we can latch onto or connect with, and her words are constantly over-enunciated by Yeomans. Her dialogue feels on-the-nose and stagnant.
This is in comparison to mother Susan (Allison Mickelson), who is far more dynamic and expressive in her delivery with all her gesticulations – it’s even more remarkable when a director’s note left on our seats before the show informs us she replaced an original cast member at short notice. The issue is that her character is regularly diagnostic in her lines, offering exposition for the lead because little is offered by Jenny herself. It reads almost like a therapy session, with the chaise longue yet to arrive.
The respective characters and how they are portrayed means there’s friction, but more in how the two acting styles come together, and there’s little drama with them to play with for the most part, as Jenny opines about inconsequential subject matters. We get that instead with the unpleasant, loud and abrupt bangs of noise to signify a scene change, when really a quick flick off and on of the lights would have sufficed.
The real revelation is delayed, and with little preamble to give it the impact it needs. It’s clear Flat Pack Furnished Flat wants to explore the generational divide in its 50-minute running time, but I can’t help but feel as though it could have done itself some favours by having said dramatic moment at the very start, with the age gap being one of the many issues for the pair to unpack in the remaining minutes – alongside that chaise longue.
Flat Pack Furnished Flat is now playing at the Greenside @ Infirmary Street, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2022, until 27 August.
Production Images: Emyr Cooper.