Artist and performer Victoria Melody teams up with her dad, TV antique dealer Mike Melody, for her most ambitious show yet. Ugly Chief is a comedy based on true-life events, performed by a real-life father and daughter. Victoria returns to Jabberwocky Market after blowing us away with the wonderful Major Tom in 2014.
In 2013, Mike was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given five years to live. Victoria was put in charge of planning the funeral (complete with eulogies, a New Orleans jazz procession and a congregation dressed in Blackpool FC tangerine). But a year later the doctors realised they had misdiagnosed Mike.
Victoria and Mike decided to go ahead with the funeral anyway and Victoria went to Port Talbot to train as a funeral director. Ugly Chief plays out two funerals – the one Victoria planned and the one her dad really wanted. And Mike is guest of honour at both. As the show unfolds, it unpicks the complicated relationship with a parent whose opinion you don’t always agree with.
Mike will be running his own version of the Antiques Roadshow during the show. The audience are invited to bring along their heirlooms, curiosities and collectables for him to value during the show. No promises but if he likes it, he might even buy it!
“Messy, moving and funny. Exposes the fractures in families we often avoid addressing while we’re alive”
★★★★ The Times
“Fascinating, beautiful and utterly human”
★★★★ Time Out
“A ridiculously enjoyable show… Of course we love it”
★★★★ The Guardian
“Extremely funny and wonderfully strange”
★★★★ The Stage
Victoria Melody is an award-winning British artist with a background in fine art. She has made one-woman theatrical shows, performance interventions and films mainly about Britain’s pastimes, passions and tribes. Fascinated by anthropology, she immerses herself into communities and becomes an active participant in their rituals as research for her work. In the past she has become a pigeon racer, a Northern Soul dancer, a championship dog handler and a beauty queen.
Musicians James Gow, Steve Pretty (Hackney Colliery Band), Kieran Rafferty and Gemma Storr provide the appropriate live accompaniment for the funeral – including Soul classics and more. They will be joined on stage by a band of brass players from the Darlington area.
Ugly Chief’s creative team is director John Gordillo, known for his work with Eddie Izzard and as host and co-creator of the BBC’s The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance); set and costume designer Lucy Bradridge; musical director Tom Parkinson; and lighting designer Sean Philips.
Here’s Jenna Johnson’s welcome to Ugly Chief in British Sign Language.