Francesca Millican-Slater is a delight. From start to finish, we are swept up by her charisma, as though caught up in a love story with her, as she recounts her relationship with her Birmingham flat. It is funny, interesting, and occasionally poignant, but despite all this doesn’t quite have enough substance to make this a stellar performance.
Francesca Millican-Slater is a delight.
When she made the decision to move from London to Birmingham, Francesca found herself living by herself for the first time in her life, and as such found herself become very attached to her slightly dodgy, slightly odd and slightly dysfunctional flat. She lovingly remembers all the quirks (like the ramp into her bedroom, or the windows that didn’t open), whilst also providing us a social history of the house and its local area. The history that is revealed is rich, with generations of grocers, a TV rental empire and a home for ‘feeble-minded women’. These glimpses are fleeting, and sometimes I felt they could have been fleshed out more. However, the insight that we’re given into this otherwise very average-looking street shows us how much history there is to be found all around us, and how much there is to appreciate in the most average or decrepit of places.
The story of Francesca’s love affair with her flat is for the most part quite cute, and comes with (one too many) sing-alongs detailing each stage of the relationship, as well as a most-welcome cheese-and-wine interlude, in line with the cheese-and-wine nights she would hold by herself with her flat. It’s a familiar look at single living that could have had depressing echoes of a Bridget Jones-esque quality, but instead is positive, even when the affair comes to an end. I found myself feel genuinely choked up seeing photos of the flat being refurbished by her landlord – such is the power of Francesca’s emotive storytelling. However, despite her exuberant narrative and beaming face, it lacked linguistic flair or rhythmic interest – and for a piece so reliant on spoken word and description, this could make certain passages drag out quite a lot.
Despite this, it’s hard not to enjoy this, with genuine laughs throughout and engaging audience interaction. As she says herself, we may have parted ways, but the memory of the flat will still remain with us, and we feel better for it.