Review: 4**** Ctrl + Alt + Delete, Camden People’s Theatre @Packemania @CamdenPT

#Tweetingit –4**** A gripping monologue exploring mother and daughter relationships – a bruising but rewarding experience.

Emma-Packer-1-725x350Ctrl + Alt + Delete…The title is a fascinating proposition for a play; but what does it tell us about the story itself? We instantly recognise the command from our computer keyboard.  I use it to lock my computer so no one can view my files without the password.  Could this be a metaphor for the secrets we keep in life and the privileged few admitted to our circle?  Or maybe it’s to open the task manager, close down the things which aren’t responding and start again, a means of re-booting a system with memory reset; an escape from life’s problems; a simple erase/rewind feature that allows us to start afresh when needed. I was just beginning to get a handle on the story as Emma Packer took the stage to deliver an intense, powerful monologue as Amy Jones.

 

We soon discover that Amy carries the emotional scars of a bruised childhood, neglectful
mother and loss of a cherished Grandfather when she was 9 years old. But we also learn that Amy is a survivor, a tough cookie who conquered adolescence and eventually made a life for herself.  Emma Packer handles the transition between characters with ease, becoming the mouthy, streetwise Amy in one breath, and cold, frustrated mother Kelly in the next. You sense Amy endured a lonely childhood – with no father figure she relied on Granddad Frank, and her imaginary friend Ben.  A fractious relationship between mother and daughter slowly begins to fester.  Amy’s letters to Nelson Mandela were an early sign of her later political awareness, but also showed her mother’s scornful dismissal of a girl connecting with life.

 

emma-packer-credit-david-packer-1The first 40 minutes of the play were devoted to teasing excerpts from her early life; key conversations with her granddad, mother, best friend Simone and postman George.   The final third branched into a much broader political narrative, focussing on the 2011 London riots sparked by the death of Mark Duggan.  It was never made clear whether Amy took part in the riots, but she was certainly there, and marked the point at which her life began to turn around. Emma Packer consequently morphed into plummy TV journalist interviewing David Cameron post-riot. This part of the monologue was used to draw the conclusion that politicians sold us a vision of the future based on a lie; Brexit being a prime example of such a lie.

 

Monologues are the most challenging of roles, as there are no actors to play off one another; the performer must face the audience and relate the story with conviction, demonstrating the interplay between characters as it evolves.  Emma Packer completes the task with ease and is clearly well rehearsed in the execution of a script she herself has written.  The politically charged final third seemed to remove the story from its core, but placed Amy in context as a disaffected member of an underclass fighting for acceptance.  A solid, well written monologue that is sometimes uncomfortable to watch, but tells us something valid and interesting about life.

 

Reviewer: Brian Penn

 

Written and Performed by: Emma Packer

 

Director: Katherine Hayes

 

Producer: Camden People’s Theatre/Camden Fringe

 

Booking Link: https://www.cptheatre.co.uk/production/ctrl-alt-del/

 

Box Office: 020 7419 484

 

Booking until: 12-13, 15-16 August 2016

 

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About Playhouse Pickings

Theatre blog run by Rhiannon Lawson; a civil servant, extreme tea drinker and theatre reviewer.
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