Major Tom

Told through a journey into the comparable worlds of beauty pageants and dog shows, Victoria Melody’s Major Tom explores how easy it is to become obsessed with personal image and competitiveness.

Major Tom is a relaxed and charming show with smart commentary under its fur. There’s no angry rant about beauty pageantry, just an informed and funny look at some of the things women go through for these pageants.

It’s quite a novelty to walk into Battersea Arts Centre and see a bunch of dogs sat on the steps of the old town hall having their pictures taken. The novelty continues when you walk into the space and the Basset Hound, Major Tom, lies by the door looking up at you and letting you pet him as you go in. IT’S A DOG ON STAGE! And he’s a very likeable, very sleepy dog. Victoria Melody warns at the beginning of the show not to get too excited about Major Tom as he’ll mostly be asleep through the whole thing. But that’s not a problem as the audience clearly loves seeing him sleep, wake up, yawn and go back to sleep. It’s clear that Victoria Melody’s Bassett Hound Major Tom is a big draw to the show. After all, he’s got the title.

In Major Tom, Victoria Melody tells the story of how she came to be the owner of such a sleepy hound and how she decided to enter him into dog shows to prove what a unique and special dog he is. After being told a number of times that Major Tom wasn’t good enough to win, Victoria became concerned about the dog’s possible low esteem so she decided to enter herself into a beauty pageant so she could sympathise with the pressure of being best in show.

Major Tom is a relaxed and charming show with smart commentary under its fur. There’s no angry rant about beauty pageantry, just an informed and funny look at some of the things women go through for these pageants. It’s effectively mirrored with Major Tom’s best of show competitions for dogs – One of the show’s highlights is a hilarious side by side comparison of Melody’s and her dog’s preparation for their shows presented like a training montage. It might not be ground-breaking – beauty pageantry is generally considered sexist and objectifying – but one of the strengths of Major Tom is how Melody demonstrates that the desire to look ‘perfect’ (or fake) and the competitiveness that comes from attaining your ‘perfection’ can be addictive. Particularly when this perfect/fake image is still paramount in mainstream entertainment and affects our general attitudes about self-image. It’s a very current issue with increasing levels of anorexia and bulimia in the UK and the presence of social media memes such as ‘thinspire’, encouraging people to get unhealthily thin and contributing to a type of eating disorder competitiveness. Victoria Melody does a good job of demonstrating how infectious this way of thinking can be whilst still keeping the show funny and enjoyable.

With a clever and current look at the obsession with body image and celebrity, a modest and easy style and a very lovable dog, Major Tom might not win best in show but is well worthwhile for its simple yet honest and poignant qualities.

Reviews by Dave House

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The Blurb

Major Tom is the true story of how an average 34 year-old and her unruly Basset Hound, Major Tom, became a beauty queen and a champion show dog.

Major Tom and Victoria immerse themselves in the obsessive and confusing realm of personal scrutiny as they participate as genuine contestants with a determination to win.

Featuring documentary film footage and accompanied on stage by her dog, Victoria explores the British fascination with celebrities, beauty and winning.