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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Unit 46


Venue: C Venue 34, Adam House Chambers St


Low Down

Set in a block of units, both occupy the same space despite being above and below each other, Unit 46 explores singledom, loneliness and the trials and tribulations of apartment living. Unit 36 is occupied by a woman in her late 30’s who is dealing with losing her job, still being single and her frustration at the neurotic man upstairs in Unit 46. Unit 46 is occupied by a man in his 40’s also single, a little paranoid and has also just lost his job. Both occupants think they are entirely at odds with one another when in actual fact if they actually communicated in person and knocked on each other’s doors rather than sending spiteful notes and banging on the ceiling or yelling through the floor they might actually find they had quite a bit in common. Unit 46 follows an evening in their lives giving the audience a fly on the wall insight into two lonely and yet fascinating people’s lives.


Directed skilfully by Andrew Doyle the two characters occupy the same space representing two apartments , cleverly using the set without once crossing into each other’s territory and keeping the illusion of two apartments consistently alive. This is a play for anyone that has suffered through apartment living and although the characters are to an extent over the top this works in this theatrical genre.

The fly on the wall element to this piece ensures the characters feel real and the audience can relate to them. Unit 46 touches on quite a number of issues including loneliness, obsession, paranoia, frustration, fear of rejection and regret, issues that come about often when you live alone.

The feeling of isolation, yet the reality that there are people all around is a common concept of the modern age and Mick Barnes manages to capture this to great effect in his writing, which is in essence a cluster of monologues. They do not however feel separated and disjointed, but rather sweep and flow with each other in tandem overlapping and linking to give the characters as much in common as they have in opposition to each other.

Unit 46 unfolds to reveal both the male and female character’s insecurities at living alone and the characters feel real and thoroughly connected which is helped along by the fact that they, as you would in your flat alone, strip to shower, they go to the bathroom and in fact in the case of the female character go so far as to examine nether regions with a mirror in hand. The play doesn’t shy away from controversy, whether that be, religion, workplace ethics or sexual relations and this is its strength.

Leof Kingsford Smith and Lucy Miller both give captivating and realistic performances with Miller delivering more dramatics and working her character to its very edges and back. Within Kingsford Smith, it seems resides a little of his character already, without the need to act. Perhaps the female part in this show is more meaty? In essence however despite ‘not’ being in the same room this duo work as a team and deliver. The blunt honesty of Unit 46 and the fearlessness of the performers, gives it weight and credibility as a solid piece of dramatic theatre.

The set is realistic and allows the concept of the plot to be fully realised. The only issue lies with a soundproofing problem in the venue which means that the show is interrupted on a regular basis by screams and shouts from outside and the dulcet tunes of the bagpipes waft upwards. However this is a slight quibble as the cast don’t turn a hair, which makes the drama of the piece even more believable.

Well worth seeing if you have ever lived in an apartment, or useful as a ‘what not to do’ manual if you are planning on it in the future.