Review by Stella Willow
Battersea Arts Centre, one of the coolest, most beautiful and creatively proactive venues in London is a must-have experience for exploratory theatregoers and in this case, canine lovers. I’ve come to review a dog, oh and a beauty queen too. “What has my life come to?” It’s a Basset Hound, and how does anyone of fair mind, critique a dog who looks so obviously sad from beginning to end?
We wait, as eager beavers at the bottom of the marble staircase, waiting to be ushered to the performance space. The veggie goulash in the bar was delish, I’m full, I am waiting…
We haven’t gone in yet, maybe the dog’s having a bad day, or just dog-tired? A lady sympathetically asks “Is the dog okay?” We’re greeted in the entrance way of the Recreation Room by the double act themselves, one Victoria Melody with pet, Major Tom. We stroke Major and are handed an A4 programme sheet as we enter to Bowie’s ‘Major Tom’ lyrics. I’m loving it and it hasn’t even begun.
Victoria walks Major across the stage, close to our seats, opening up more opportunity to stroke the beast before he rests himself on a large white cushion by a bowl of water and a towel, licking his lips.
We are welcomed for coming. It’s stated Major’s “unlikely to do anything but lie here for the entire show”.
It’s stand-up comedy; Melody, in a short stripy dress, forges ahead on the how’s and why’s of buying her dog. Scampering through professional dog walking, dogs on death row, impregnating bitches and her first meeting with Major who was twice the size of the rest of the pack and nicknamed “big bugger”. Pulling his awfully long docile ears, turning his cushion, comparing him to a Tory (he reads too, in an awfully posh voice), we sit enthralled with equal attention on both enigmatic performers.
Festering fun film projections of “walkies” with Major Tom abound with a sharp mix of life’s idiosyncrasies of dog shows and beauty pageants. Beauty pageants for the slightly older woman and strict beauty regimes for both Victoria and Major.
It’s real, down to earth with a bump and more than a giggle, an explosion of laughter, as we are led by a metaphorical lead, through the trials of dog-breeding, texting dog-dating and kinky revelations of Major’s sexual preferences. Progressing to amateur, professional and the ultimate dog show of dog shows Crufts, a mix with the snubbing of dog handlers and breeders.
Melody measures her own creation beautifully, packing it with raw and funny observations in a unique way, letting her energy and mood change as she recognises perhaps “the pattern of failure” as she draws closer to her conclusion. Ultimately she’s a feminist laughing at herself with a tremendous love for her dog. This is a top pedigree show, deserving a first prize rosette… Roll on more Melody and Major adventures.