“Quirkiness and curiosity that is deeply appealing – and very funny” ✩✩✩✩The Stage (on Head Set)
Delving into amateur stand-up culture and trying to make peace with a messy brain, this joyful and mischievous documentary-theatre show from Victoria Melody is a celebration of neurodiversity and an exploration of the social model of disability.
Fed up with theatre-making after a hard tour, Victoria Melody fell back onto her plan b: she decided to try and crack stand-up comedy. But what sounded like genius in her head came out of her mouth as garbled mess, so she sought the help of a speech and language therapist which led to her eventual diagnosis as neurodivergent. Always the experimenter, she took her late age diagnosis of ADHD and autism to neuroscientists and started working with them to examine the scientific potential of stand-up as self-medication for ADHD, using wearable tech to scan her brain while she delivered jokes.
Head Set follows Victoria’s strange journey into finding one’s authentic self while trying to succeed in the mainstream.
The tour follows a hugely successful run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2022 and has been updated and restaged with the help of Bryony Kimmings to reflect on Victoria’s recent life changes.
Victoria Melody says: “I’m delighted to be taking Head Set out on tour and sharing its important themes with audiences across the country and connecting with neurodivergent audiences. Women are often underdiagnosed with ADHD and autism because we are so good at masking our differences to try and fit in. I was taught by a comedy teacher that there are rules and formulas to writing jokes and whilst I was conforming to this structure, I was dying on stage. Head Set shows us that there is the way we present ourselves but then there is also what makes us spontaneously and uniquely funny. It’s about capitalising on our particular strangeness.”
About Victoria Melody: A social chameleon by trade, Victoria Melody is a documentary-theatre maker who embeds herself in niche communities and topics for several years: in Northern Soul, she becomes a pigeon fancier and a northern soul fan, Major Tom (Argus Angel Award, Total Theatre Award and Arches Brick award) was about becoming a beauty queen and a championship dog handler (getting to Crufts). She followed up with Hair Peace to find out where her human hair extensions came from, and Ugly Chief performed with her dad about his terminal diagnosis and giving him a living funeral. They later found out he had been misdiagnosed.
The research and development for Head Set has been supported by Watershed’s Winter Residency, Farnham Maltings, South Street, University of Sussex and Arts Council England."