From a Victorian freak show to a steam- powered ladies’ reliever, A Cautionary Tale is a celebration of the weird and wonderful from the 19th century.

The Brighton and Lewes-based show by theatre company Come Into My Parlour is now into its third year, having grown from a small cabaret performance. Its Fletch appearance, which will be closing the venue’s Brighton Festival Fringe programme, will be the largest show the company has unleashed yet, although it is planning to take over The Walpole Hotel, in Cliftonville, near Margate, in October for a full weekend of Victorian shenanigans.

“The Victorians had this terribly uptight moral veneer,” says John Knowles, who plays Lord Buxley and the murderer Burke in the show. “But there is this appalling world underneath. It is fascinating.”

A Cautionary Tale follows the structure of a Victorian melodrama, telling the story of a love affair with a housemaid who gives birth to a hairy wildman. Along the way the tale takes in the evil of drink, little matchgirls and the murderous side of Victorian life.

“Lots of cabaret acts are woven into the story,” says John. “We’ve got steam-powered hip-hop and song and dance. We love the musical style of the Victorians – violent and cruel songs that we have done a lot of research into.

“They would sing songs about men who fall in love with women only to find on their wedding night that they have a false leg or eye – songs you could never perform today. We have created our own songs from them.

“The melodrama is very camp, and shows the sentimental side of the Victorians.”

As with their previous performances the company is hoping that the audience will come to the show appropriately attired.

“At a show in Hastings we had a group of women who came as widows, with a whole story they had worked out,” says John.

“We also had a colonel with his whole retinue with him. The audiences obviously get better funding than we do for their costumes!”

  • Starts 9pm, tickets £12/£10. Call 01273 709709.