It sounds like the premise for a particularly insane BBC3 documentary: urged on by friends and family, performer Victoria Melody decided to enter her enormous Basset hound Major Tom into the world of professional dog shows. Feeling guilty about the chilly reception he received, Melody decided that it would only be fair if she put herself up for scrutiny as well – and so duly enrolled herself in Mrs Galaxy UK, a beauty pageant for married women.
She filmed much of this, and this charming piece of docu-theatre is the end result. It's an affable chat through the whole bizarre process conducted by Melody, with the limited support of Major Tom himself, an enormous, wrinkly creature who spends the bulk of the show having a good doze.
There is, at the bottom of it all, an ambivalent interrogation of the competitive drive, a consideration of both its toxicity and the allure – something that seems particularly apt in the attention-seeking bear pit of the Fringe.
Nonetheless, the perma-grinning Melody gives the air of a woman who had a whale of a time throughout, and ‘Major Tom’ feels less an examination of the human spirit, more a delightful curio, like an hour of being talked through a really, really odd holiday video.
More substance or incisiveness might have made for a more powerful work of theatre – but it wouldn’t have been half so loveable. Like its eponymous hero, ‘Major Tom’ doesn’t necessarily achieve all that much, but it’s delightful having it around.