Major Tom at Canada Water Culture Space
Wacky, funny and downright bonkers, Major Tom is a story that forces us to examine our obsession with image while laughing out loud. A woman (Victoria Melody) enters her dog, Major Tom, into dog shows and begins to feel bad that he is being so scrutinised for his appearance. Instead of withdrawing him from the contests she decides to put herself under the spotlight, and enters a Miss England contest.
The first thing to talk about is clearly the eponymous character, Major Tom himself. A slovenly and smelly Basset Hound, he accompanies Melody onstage throughout the entirety of the production and does…very little. At one point she manages to rouse him with a dog treat but for 95% of the show he’s pretty much comatose. In short, he’s hilarious, but if you’re expecting a dog show, you’ve come to the wrong place.
Melody presents her story in a compelling manner. She goes through several metamorphoses, from dog handler to pageant queen all while recounting her story in a tone that is at once childishly innocent and knowingly complicit. It would be easy to call her a bimbo and she does her utmost to fulfil this role. However, the cutting humour belies her collusion with the audience and her awareness of the ridiculousness of the story she’s telling. This is most obvious during the final scenes of the play, when Melody’s beauty pageant is spliced with Major Tom’s dog show and we see a woman being judged as brutally and superficially as a dog at Crufts.
So here’s the obvious question: if this show is Melody’s critique of self-obsession and the absurdity of the perfect image, why did she dedicate so much of her life to what she is critiquing? Perhaps the answer lies in one of the comments she makes late on in the show: “I know I’m a worse person…but I like the worse me!” Rather than a critique, Melody provides us with a zaney commentary on the vanity of human nature.
At times we’re unsure what the show is trying to tell us or whether it’s just an extension of her narcissism, however, Major Tom and Melody’s charisma and personality make sure the audience leaves feeling slightly bewildered, but always entertained.
Major Tom was at Canada Water Performance Space on 9th May 2014. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch Victoria Melody speak about the production here: