Image credit: Emma Packer

“Amy Jones from Brixton is an emotionally charged girl with a strong political heart. She challenges the injustices of the world, where war rips communities apart, equality isn’t universal and your biggest enemies are sometimes the very ones who brought you into the world.”

CTRL+ALT+DELETE is a one-woman show, written & performed by Emma Packer, that revolves around the life of London girl Amy Jones. From the blurb it promises an interesting, thought-provoking 60 minutes – in reality, it completely fails to deliver.

The heart of the story is Amy as a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her mother, from her drinking heavily during pregnancy to putting her in hospital as a university student. The message coming from this is that, sadly & shockingly, this sort of thing does happen – and it can only be a good thing that awareness is raised, to try & prevent it in the future.

Emma Packer, credit David Packer 2.
Emma Packer in CTRL+ALT+DELETE
Photo credit: David Packer

An inherent problem comes with Packer playing all of the characters. As Amy, she struggles with the accent (it veers between London, Australian & South African) – this makes it even harder to believe that she’s a child or teenager for the most part. Packer is far stronger & more convincing as Amy’s mum. As such, I believe the play would work a lot better with a cast of two.

It would also mean an alternative lighting design could be employed; one of the main identifying factors is that her mum is under a spotlight, whereas for Amy the whole stage is covered with light. There is more time for Amy, so much of the hour is spent with the room bathed in light – this is quite distracting, and borders on annoying after a while. With two actors, this could be amended to spotlights for both.

The inclusion of politics & current affairs (terrorist attacks, MPs’ expenses, Brexit, etc.) doesn’t seem to fit with Amy’s story, instead starting a different thread about lies. It also, confusingly, has Packer briefly acting as a slightly ranty newscaster. Again, the ideas here are important & should be explored – they just need to fit into a narrative. There is a fundamental lack of coherence, jumping from one time to another, from one character to another, and from one idea to another…

Emma Packer, credit David Packer 1.
Emma Packer in CTRL+ALT+DELETE
Photo credit: David Packer

The script’s style is odd. At times sounding like a stand-up comedian at the start of a skit (albeit not particularly funny), and at others attempting to sound more like poetry but ending up completely devoid of any meaning. What is a “halo of Ribena”, anyway?

In all, this show just doesn’t work for me. I’m a great believer that the audience shouldn’t be spoonfed absolutely everything, but you do occasionally have to make things clear. If you don’t, people quickly lose focus & interest – and your message is entirely lost.

Emma Packer, credit David Packer 4.
Emma Packer in CTRL+ALT+DELETE
Photo credit: David Packer

My verdict? Important themes pushed together to make an hour of incoherent theatre – it just doesn’t work.

Rating: 1*

CTRL+ALT+DELETE runs at the Camden People’s Theatre as part of Camden Fringe until 16 August 2016. Tickets are available online or from 020 7419 4841.


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