Page extent: 64
ISBN: 9781786823700
Binding: Paperback

Ugly Chief

Victoria Melody

Paperback (31 Oct 2017)

In 2013, Mike was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given five years to live. Mike’s daughter Victoria was put in charge of planning the funeral. 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 the funeral Victoria planned. 

Additional Information

ISBN13 9781786823700
Binding Paperback
Page Extent 64


'when Mike didn’t die (he had been misdiagnosed), they decided to go ahead with the funeral because, as Victoria observes, “a funeral is a really sad theatre show”. The question throughout this piece is: who is really running the show? Particularly as age and frailty start to reverse the roles of parent and child... It is a ridiculously enjoyable show, not least because the tension is always apparent between Victoria’s desire to exert control and Mike’s natural talent for chaos. “You’re not going to like this,” Victoria tells the audience when Dad wrests charge of the second half... Of course we love it. Just as we love the rest of this generous, funny show that is as messy as life and death and which wears all its cunning contrivances with such unforced sincerity that you can’t help but eulogise it.' Lyn Gardner, The Guardian ★★★★

'The sheer forthrightness from both performers is refreshing, as are the direct addresses to the audience, even if one starts talking about the other, usually in less than wholly positive terms, whilst the other is still on stage. Video technology is used to good and comical effect... All things considered, this is a witty and spirited play, and I’d happily see it again. As for Mike Melody, he couldn’t help but spot this reviewer scribbling away into a notepad, and was confident enough to tell the press night audience I’d give him “all the stars”. How incredibly perceptive he is.' London Theatre 1 ★★★★★

'an extremely funny and wonderfully strange exhumation of family grievances, the partial unpicking of a relationship freighted with resentment, disappointment, frailty and familiarity... Fascinating and very funny show about the formalities of funerals, provenance and paternity.' The Stage ★★★★

'in this off-piste comic treat... Victoria Melody had set out to stage a living funeral for her dad, a celebration of his life while he's still here to see it, as a way of examining our attitude to death... Disputing every detail of his daughter's account – an aspect that asks whether we control our legacies or know ourselves – he demands a different funeral (and a different show), wresting control of the second half himself. It makes for a mongrel piece, as messy as life, as awkward as death and as funny as anything spinning out of control.' What's On Stage ★★★★