IT’S a whirlwind – a funeral, but not sombre; a comedy, but also emotional. Ugly Chief leaves you slightly stunned and blinking, emerging from the womb-like theatre back into the real world, feeling as if something transformative has taken place.

When theatre maker Victoria Melody’s father Mike Melody (celebrity antiques dealer) was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, she immersed herself in the working life of a funeral home, learned the trade, and organised what she thought would be the perfect funeral service for him, complete with live New Orleans style band. When it turned out he did not after all have a terminal condition, they made it into a theatre show instead, complete with order of service for the audience, and two eulogies - one written by Victoria, the other by Mike himself.

Mike Melody’s idea of his dream funeral is markedly different to Victoria’s, and his larger-than life half of the show features mourners (audience members) in orange shirts - Blackpool FC colour, and the ‘deceased’ being rolled into the funeral service in a large bourbon barrel. He also hosts an antiques valuing segment, apropos of nothing.

It sounds a ridiculous premise, and it often is, hilariously so, but Ugly Chief is about more than a comedy spectacle. What develops is a clever deconstruction of the father-daughter relationship, where things emerge that would otherwise be left unsaid. What is ‘the show’, and what is real life is so interwoven, as to make for an utterly captivating two hours.