Over-the-top, fresh and constantly funny, Extravaganza Macabre proved to be the perfect show to Christen Battersea Arts Centre’s new outdoors courtyard theatre.

Watching a performance outside – whether it is a gig, theatre or even a film screening – already brings with it a novelty and thrilling atmosphere and Little Bulb Theatre’s latest show takes that feeling and runs with it.

A terrifically arch farce set in Victorian London, this is a the tale of a couple separated by a freak storm on their wedding day, a clairvoyant maid, an evil aristocrat, a street urchin and a baby found floating on the Thames.

Like a nineteenth century Garth Merenghi, Extravaganza Macabre is inventive and knowing. It steers deliberately towards ridiculousness yet its deftly devastating script and performances pull it back from the brink and pitch it perfectly for optimum enjoyment without forsaking its ludicrous narrative.

The 100-minute show (with a 20 minute interval) is performed with much gusto and apparent glee by the startling talent trio of Alexander Scott, Dominic Conway and Clare Beresford who, as well as launching themselves into multiple characters with barely the chance to catch a breath, manage to play all of the music as well.

All three are riotously entertaining though Beresford is a particular delight, showing off a great voice in the winning songs and comic chops as the urchin Chipper.

Conway’s gift for physical comedy is evident throughout as the wide-eyed and earnest lover Ernest though he is especially fun as the maid who can communicate with the spirit world.

Scott, as the narrator and evil Lord London, proves to be quick with an ad-lib that has the audience eating out of his hand.

In a show where you can feel the air on your cheeks and the rain on your head, keeping the audience absorbed could be a challenge. Not for these three.

Off the cuff remarks about the weather and spontaneous riffs about what’s going on around them let the audience in on the fun, while the crowd near the front stand-in as the Thames and a series of portraits.

If you’re one of those people who enjoys feeling part of a show then sitting on the ground level is certainly for you. Standing up on the balcony is marginally safer territory, although the cast does get around.

The small, split-level space was used admirably and integral to the performance which made the most of its windows, trap doors and a balcony finale in an otherwise simple-looking staging that relied mostly on imagination.

And there was no lack of that from Little Bulb Theatre Company. Extravaganza Macabre really is so much fun – full of laugh-out-loud moments that not even rain can spoil (although admittedly this wasn’t fully tested as our downpour was only intermittent and I am eternally grateful to the lady standing next to me for sharing her umbrella).

Extravaganza Macabre is at Battersea Arts Centre until August 26. Tickets cost from £12.50. Go to bac.org.uk

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