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Annoying Audience Members

Article by Mike Shaw

However, even the best-chosen seat runs the risk of being ruined if it’s positioned next to one of the four main types of nightmare audience member. Fear not though, dear reader, these London theatre villains can be easily defeated, if thoroughly understood.

There are many types of irritating theatre audience members, but here are the most annoying.

A visit to the theatre is one of the most pleasant and relaxing ways to spend an evening in London. In fact, London theatre is among the best in the world, better than Broadway, that’s for sure.

However, as wonderful as the West End is, a London theatre break to see a big musical or the latest play can so easily be ruined by choosing the wrong seat. There are the obvious mistakes; sitting behind a pillar or on an awkward corner, for example, however these seats can be easily avoided when booking. London theatre break providers such as Show and Stay only offer top tickets, so if you book with them you can guarantee that you’ll not have to worry about iffy seating.

1) The Heckler Perhaps due to low self-esteem, the heckler feels the need to mock the performers on stage despite the fact that he/she clearly paid for a London theatre ticket to see the act they’re deriding.

Curious creatures, hecklers thankfully seem to operate alone or in very small groups, like in The Muppet Show. Nobody is quite sure just why this particular breed of theatregoer feels the need to detract from their own -and everyone around them’s – experience, but rest assured, a simple shush or a quick word with the front of house staff will soon silence them.

2) The EaterAny semi-regular visitor to London’s theatres will know that, when in the auditorium, certain foods are allowed and others are not. Sweets, for example, are okay as long as they don’t have noisy wrappings and they don’t smell, ice cream at the interval is traditional and nibbles at the bar are fine. However, it’s the noisy and/or stinky foods that the eater seems to prefer.

Often seen fumbling with the two-foot-thick layer of extra-loud tin foil that encapsulates their warm fish paste sandwiches, the eaters offend not one, but two of your senses. Fortunately, the eater’s disruption is short-lived, lasting no more than 10 minutes, on average. If their West End theatre picnic lasts much longer then you can politely ask them to keep the noise down; the smell, sadly, can’t really be combated and must be left to simply dissipate.

3) The Narrator Some visitors to London theatres like to help other West End audience members by offering a thorough scene-by-scene analysis of what’s happening onstage. This might sound helpful but it’s actually rather annoying, especially when the narrator gets ahead of themselves and starts predicting the performance’s future.

To silence the narrator’s endless stream of West End spoilers, first try the staredown. Attempt to make eye contact with your target and hold it for as long as possible, stick with it until you enter the uncomfortable phase and keep holding until the narrator breaks contact.

If the staredown is impossible/does not work skip straight to the medium-strength shush, repeated three times if necessary. Only the most resilient narrator will continue through repeated shushing. If all else fails, call in the cavalry: the front of house staff.

4) The Karaoke Artist Specific to musicals, the karaoke artist seems to be most prevalent at jukebox musicals such as Mamma Mia! (where it’s almost acceptable) and at the big blockbusters like Wicked (where it’s certainly not acceptable). Don’t let these selfish, off-key, wailing banshees spoil your night, be prepared and you can silence them just as quickly as any other troublesome London theatre audience member.

The first step to muting a karaoke artist is to nip the problem in the bud; the longer they’re allowed to keep wailing, the louder and more confident they will become. A quick “pardon me, would you mind not singing along” in the first or second song will stop most karaoke artists, especially the teenage Wicked ‘fangirls’.

If they’re still singing by the fourth song, you’ll most likely become part of a very British London theatre audience sub-species, the group shushers. Group shushers work together, with a chorus of shushes, pardon mes, tuts and eye rolls to defeat karaoke artists and other obnoxiously loud London theatre audience members, it’s essentially the spirit of the blitz in the auditorium of a West End theatre.

About the Author

Show and Stay offers the best hotel and theatre packages. Book your London show and hotel with us and choose from more than fifty London theatre breaks.

Visit the Show and Stay website for more information.

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