CTRL + ALT + DELETE at the Camden’s People Theatre
Written and performed by Emma Packer, CTRL + ALT + DELETE is a tale of resilience, domestic violence and lies. The one-man show begins with Brixton-born Amy Jones recollecting memories of her childhood: her love for her granddad, the relationship with her best friend and having an obsession with the Spice Girls. The story then takes on a darker note as she reveals the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother.
What makes the play stand out is how Packer also performs as the mother, providing the audience with the character’s ugly and harsh perspective towards her aggressive behaviour. It’s a harrowing examination of the motivation and consequences of domestic violence whilst equally playing with the idea that Amy and her mother are made of the same flesh, which Packer’s ability to switch credibly between the two women exemplifies.
Sometimes one-man shows can drag, and initially, this was slow to start: Packer did not seem entirely believable as Amy, her Brixton accent perhaps slightly overdone, but when the play progressed, she fell more easily into her roles. As the mother, she was startlingly good – her whole face, body language and voice changed. The lighting effectively enhanced the character swaps, often having the stage go dark and a harsh spotlight emerge as the mother entered. Striking moments included times when the two co-existed together, and Packer carried a conversation between both parent and child.
Towards the end of the performance, Packer reveals her motivation for writing the play: lies – those that caused Brexit and covered-up tracks during the financial crisis. Amy’s mother is a perpetrator and believer in lying to shift responsibility. Perhaps the only element of the play that seemed unnecessary and clichéd was sweeping away the mother’s motivation, giving her an excuse for her aggression and hatred towards her daughter. It seemed to undermine the concept of lying that the plot was built on, weakening the mother’s accountability. Equally, it simplified the reasons for domestic violence to some extent; sometimes it is not possible to pin down people’s motivations towards an unhappy event in their past.
Having said that, CTRL + ALT + DELETE was thought-provoking and interesting. Unlike many one-man shows, it was not boring at any point. It is current, original and worth a watch.
Photo: David Packer
CTRL + ALT + DELETE is on at the Camden’s People Theatre from 8th until 16th August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch actress Emma Packer in CTRL + ALT + DELETE here: