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. This is Victoria’s return to Heads Up after going down a storm previously with Major Tom.
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, 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 also be running his own version of 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!
Victoria Melody is an award-winning British artist with a background in fine art, one-woman theatrical shows, performance interventions and films. 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 Hull 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.
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Created by Victoria Melody. Produced by Farnham Maltings. Commissioned and developed at New Wolsey Theatre, Farnham Maltings, Battersea Arts Centre and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. Supported by The Point Eastleigh, The Spire, The Marlborough, National Performance Network and Unity Theatre Trust. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Originally seeded by house with The Old Market.