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Extravaganza Macabre by Little Bulb at Battersea Arts Centre

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 31st Jul 2016 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin

(c) Alex Brenner, no use without credit, Little Bulb - Extravaganza Macabre @ Battersea Arts Centre (_DSC8051).jpg

Clare Beresford, Alexander Scott and Dominic Conway

Tonight we have a tale!

On Tuesday 26th July, Battersea Art Centre's new theatre and activity space - the Courtyard - was launched with Little Bulb's Theatre's latest work Extravaganza Macabre. Designed by Stirling Prize winning architects Haworth Tompkins, the Courtyard is an intimate 75 m² open-air space that allows for close contact between performers and audience. Part of the audience is seated on wooden benches downstairs, part has standing tickets on a balcony walkway upstairs with a convenient railing to lean on. The removable stage floor is equipped with trap doors, which are used to great effect during the performance.

Little Bulb Theatre inaugurates the new space with a highly entertaining spoof of Victorian melodrama complete with evil arch rogue Lord London, a fair-haired maiden named Elizabeth Pureheart, her valiant young beau Ernest, clairvoyant servant girl Bertha, and a clever street urchin with a birthmark shaped like London who is accompanied by his loyal companion Dog Dog.

(c) Alex Brenner, no use without credit, Little Bulb - Extravaganza Macabre @ Battersea Arts Centre (_DSC8084).jpg

Elizabeth (Clare Beresford) and Ernest (Dominic Conway) with the priest (Alexander Scott)

The performance begins with a brass trio and a song about "London - the Greatest City the World Has Ever Seen" before the theatre manager welcomes his audience to the theatre and introduces the lover, played by Hector, and his lady love, played by Nell. He himself will play the villain, Lord Octavius London, who will lead us into the depths of depravity.

The story follows two strings. The first involves a little orphan boy named Chipper who was found as a baby floating on a raft in the river Thames. Seven years later, in 1893, Elizabeth Pureheart and Ernest are going to be wed. But a terrible storm blows Ernest into the Thames never to reappear, leaving Elizabeth lonely and heartbroken. Trying to commute with Ernest's spirit world via her servant Bertha, Elizabeth receives ambivalent messages from her mother.

This highly imaginative and theatrical production is performed by three actors and several members of the audience who are selected to play the remaining parts. There is quite a bit of audience participation in this production and it is worth paying close attention to the story if you are (un)fortunate enough to be cast in a speaking role. It is all in good fun though and nobody is put on the spot. Being on the balcony, my only task was handing on a prop.

(c) Alex Brenner, no use without credit, Little Bulb - Extravaganza Macabre @ Battersea Arts Centre (_D3C6338).jpg

Elizabeth (Clare Beresford) and Bertha (Dominic Conway) braving the storm

Little Bulb presents original compositions including opera tunes, acapella, chimes and euphonium with the cast playing a variety of instruments. Using wooly fake beards and a multitude of cheesy props, this show is a lot of fun and is never meant to be taken too seriously. You have to release your inner child to get involved in this production and it is well worth it. The actors are doing a very fine job. And watching Dominic Conway, I still remember his outstanding Django Reinhardt in the unforgettable Little Bulb show Orpheus which was performed in the beautiful Grand Hall of the Battersea Arts Centre before it became a victim of the flames.

Come to see this show for a fun night out. During the interval penny pies and a selection of gins are available.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 26 August 2016

Battersea Arts Centre ¦ 020 7223 2223

Running Time: 100 minutes with one interval

All photos by Alex Brenner.



  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 1 year ago
    Thanks, Carolin. A delightful and colourful review.
  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 1 year ago
    Nothing we like more than a successful opening in a new theatre space!
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