• Comedy
  • Written and Performed by Victoria Melody
  • Battersea Arts Center, London
  • Until 15th March 2014
  • Time: 19:30
  • Review by Becca Kaplan
  • 12 March 2014
Major Tom
3.5Reviewer's Rating

Any show that begins with walking in and petting a dog can only be a great time, right? Well that at least was the mindset I had after entering Major Tom and being greeted by the title character himself. This one woman (and one dog) show centers around the true story of Victoria Melody, a jack of all trades who begins entering her large, lazy, walking Prozac of a Basset Hound into dog competitions. But the deep scrutiny of her dog and his physique, attributes and ability to live up to a judge’s ideal image of a dog, leaves her feeling guilty. So, to somehow compensate and relate to her pup, Vicky enters herself into beauty pageants. Interwoven into these parallel stories of ‘becoming people’s projects’ are costume changes and documentary footage from her and Major Tom’s lives.

It is almost a competition between who is cuter and who has a better sense of comedic timing: Victoria or her dog. Major Tom slumps about the stage at his own will and at times it is hard to tell what is planned to look ‘real’ and unresponsive and what is actually the dog’s own stubborn ways. Either way, he is entertaining and almost outshines Victoria at times, especially if she is changing behind a screen. But Vicky has her own charm and comedic flare.  What allows you to truly connect to this bizarre tale is Vicky’s ability to reveal herself – faults and all. Her documentary footage, comically edited, is invasive and not always pretty. At her highest weight she videotapes herself being weighed and measured in a bra and high-waisted underwear. Some of her footage is also highly revealing of human nature, as in her dress shopping experience when she is convinced to buy a gown she does not truly like. The ‘live’ Victoria’s mocking commentary of herself and the sales women seems like a voice over recording of my own thoughts thinking back onto shopping mistakes of the past.

The show has its lags: some of the transitions are rushed and certain lines feel strained, as though Vicky is waiting for the laughter she is certain is going to come. However, these awkward lags are quickly overcome by the sense of realness and sincerity that the pair exudes. Short and sweet, Major Tom is good for a heartwarming laugh.  The show does not say anything new about the concept of beauty, competition and how people change on the inside when consumed by changing on the outside. But it does not have to nor does it appear like it is striving to. Rather its goal seems simply to entertain while sharing a personal story in a funny and inventive way. Bringing her story to the stage, Vicky becomes her own project, rather than everyone else’s.

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