Published: 06:00, 18 September 2021
Rowdy theatre-goers have been branded “bullies” for flouting rules and verbally abusing staff.
Witnesses say employees at the Marlowe in Canterbury struggled to contain drunken visitors who ignored restrictions on standing up during the shows.
Nancy Elliott, who went to both One Night at the Disco and the Tina Turner tribute gig, has questioned whether the city theatre needs bouncers to control the trouble-makers.
But bosses at the venue have defended its security arrangements, despite admitting they do have the “occasional over-enthusiastic audience member”.
Ms Elliott said: “I am disgusted at the recent behaviour of the audience at the two performances.
“How on Earth are these people allowed in a theatre when they are obviously drunk before entering the building and intent on causing trouble.
“The staff were being verbally abused for trying to keep people seated during the performance. At the beginning of both shows, there is an announcement to tell everyone to keep seated and not to take photos.
'I’ve never experienced behaviour like this in any theatre...'
“The rules were broken by many and staff had no control over the situation and needed back up from security - it was absolute mayhem.
“This is a theatre, not a nightclub, pub or any other establishment where one goes to get drunk and disorderly.
“It is obvious to me that theatres cannot cope with these tribute concerts where people want to get up and dance and sing. The audience are told to stay seated due to the dangers of harming others, tripping down the steps or falling over the balconies.”
Ms Elliott says fellow attendees were “shocked and frightened” by the behaviour of the rule-breakers and has called for the issue to be urgently resolved.
“These people are bullies and need to be thrown out for causing such distress to other members of the audience and to the staff who are only trying to do their job to keep everyone safe,” she added.
“Do we need bouncers at the Marlowe now to cope with this?
“This seriously needs to be addressed. I’ve never experienced behaviour like this in any theatre.”
Marlowe chief executive Deborah Shaw believes security at the venue is well-managed.
“The safety of staff and customers is always of paramount importance to everyone at the Marlowe,” she said.
“Our staff are all highly trained and we have additional security teams for some shows when it is required.
“We do have the occasional over-enthusiastic audience member, especially in the early days of coming back after a long period of lockdown, but we are confident that the measures we have in place are effective and safe.
“We are immensely proud of our staff, who are courteous and highly professional, and we encourage everyone to be kind to each other when they visit our theatre.”