Major Tom – Battersea Art Centre, London
Created and Performed: Victoria Melody
Reviewer: Christopher Hong
Major Tom is a grumpy, lethargic basset hound who spends eighteen hours a day sleeping. And he spends much of this hour show doing just that on stage, leaving it to Victoria Melody to tell the humorous story of how she began entering Major Tom in dog shows. And feeling guilty for subjecting her pet to the cruel and gruelling world of dog shows, she in turn entered herself in a beauty pageant.
The main draw of the show is the charm of Melody and Major Tom. She is all bright eyed with a wide beaming smile greeting the audience as it files in, while Major Tom is the welcome mat drooling over those who inevitably reach down and pat him. It is an interesting enough story of an amateur venturing into a professional world that was once a popular TV format. The inclusion of footage of dog shows and beauty pageants only reinforces the impression of watching a television show. It is helped along with humour, including a montage of Melody training in a gym to lose weight, giving a nod to a television origin.
Cliches aside, Melody tells the story with plenty of jokes and an utmost positivity despite various setbacks. But her idiosyncratically laid back delivery speed means it either feels like it is at best a constant wait for the next punchline or a half hour show padded out to an hour. As nice as she is, and despite flashes of truly personal revelation, the show remains distant and disengaged. The undercurrent of thoughtfulness is too well disguised. The missed opportunity to look at the various characters around her means everything focuses on Melody. In which case, she needs to bring more of herself to the show.
Runs until 27th September