After each performance a stage manager writes notes in a show report, detailing technical tweaks needed, actor mishaps and unusual audience behaviour. Fergus Morgan rounds up the best of the year’s entries for when things on stage, and beyond, didn’t exactly go to plan
Antony and Cleopatra, London’s National Theatre
A couple in the third row, moved by Shakespeare’s play of the great lovers, [performed by Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo] found it impossible to break from their passionate embrace even after the lights came up for the interval. Beside them sat a mortified lady who didn’t know where to look. After a further 15 minutes of kissing both seated and standing, the front-of-house manager asked them to desist as they were oblivious to those wishing to pass to get to their seats. She added that by their behaviour they were distracting members of the audience, the performers and the crew. The young lady asked: “Has Ralph said anything?”
Peter Gynt, National Theatre
A couple in the audience decided to take home the chopped-off finger after play one. Not hugely helpful. The piece was cast to fit the actor. Wigs, hair and make-up believe we have a spare.
Macbeth, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
A young and enthusiastic house. The opening of the show was akin to when the Beatles last played Wolverhampton in 1963. The first few minutes were met with screaming from the excited house, before the ‘shushing’ took over and they calmed down. The Macbeths’ kiss in the bunker was mayhem. Cheers, shouting, whistling and cat-calling. A heckle of “Get in” and a small round of applause.
Blood Wedding, Young Vic, London
An audience member turned up expecting to see Portia Coughlan by Marina Carr (a year in advance of the show being here). Box office were accommodating and suggested they see the Marina Carr play we had playing in our main house – her version of Blood Wedding.
As You Like It, Shakespeare’s Globe, London
A patron asked a visitor welcome manager during the second half if we could find out what perfume Charles the Wrestler was wearing. She left her details in case she had left before we could find the answer after the show (she had). Thanks to the stage manager who found out.
The Snow Queen, Theatr Clwyd
We had a lovely old couple showing us a waltz during Little Clwyd. We did, however, have to make one gentleman do press-ups because he called his wife a “slag”.
Anonymous Show, Soho Theatre, London
An audience member projectile-vomited 15 minutes into the show. She didn’t want to come out so I went in and cleared up around her as best I could, as the show went on. She came out towards the end, to vomit again. This time near the toilet. We had a team of ushers and volunteers (heroes) to scrape up and scrub down.
Crooked Dances, Royal Shakespeare Company
A mobile phone rang during Sylvia’s anti-technology speech.
Dirty Crusty, Yard Theatre, London
During the recital, a Deliveroo man entered the cloakroom. The stage manager had more success asking him to leave.
The Man Without a Past, New Perspectives Theatre, Nottingham
There was a seagull, or small dinosaur, walking on the roof for the first half of the show. I thought it was the speakers playing up at first, and an audience member commented on it afterwards.
A Murder Is Announced, Theatr Clwyd
After tonight’s performance, we were greeted by an impromptu performance from a local male voice choir. It was unexpected but wonderfully received.
Relatively Speaking, Salisbury Playhouse
A butterfly joined Mr Burton and Mr McMullan during their scene at the end of 2:2. This caused a degree of distraction and hilarity.
Anonymous Show, Anonymous Theatre
Sadly a death occurred on stage during ‘At Marcs’. Poor Fred the Fly decided he wanted in on the hilarity and to have his moment in the spotlight. However, as he took his place on the table, Mr ****** (perhaps realising there was some serious upstaging about to occur) halted Fred’s dream of stardom with a lightning-fast whack of the chair cushion.
Really Real Teenz!, Yard Theatre
The rice gets everywhere so a few more sweeps after hoovering are necessary.
The Little Prince, Protein Dance
The Pilot in The Little Prince managed to put his pilot jacket on upside down. He knew this, but the lights came up and he had no choice but to carry on dancing. The rest of the cast could not resist but laugh at the bizarre look of the pilot trapped in his own jacket.
Rejoicing at Her Wondrous Vulva the Young Woman Applauded Herself, Ovalhouse, London
The surface of one of the crura of the clitoris hat has developed a hole in it – it doesn’t affect the structural integrity and isn’t visible, but is worth mentioning.
The Duchess of Malfi, Edinburgh Lyceum
Show report 32: During the reset we realised we had lost the podger [spanner], we’ve borrowed another.
Show report 33: During the interval turnaround we had hooked up the bath truck. We opened the wall and tried to set it down stage but it jammed… We closed the wall to investigate. Having a quick look under the truck we discovered the problem. It was the missing podger, which had rolled under the truck.
Anna, National Theatre, London
One of the cast mixed up the letter board so we asked the audience to “Keep Us Lafe & No Spoisers”.
Measure for Measure, Royal Shakespeare Company
A small piece of material from the Shrew appliquè gauze fell off in 4.1 (The Moated Grange). Patrick Brennan (Abhorson) offered to kick it upstage during the transition. From the wings, he appeared to make sterling work of ‘hoofing it’ upstage in the darkness prior to his entrance for “Do you call, ma’am?”. However, it then became apparent the gauze was stuck to his shoe – where it remained until his exit. The gauze will be flown in during the reset on Monday and checked for loose patches.
Mammy Goose, Tron Theatre
Performance 5: The golden egg for the sweetie throw fell out of Lucy’s bum prior to the fart SFX. This caused a great deal of hilarity. Mr Brownlie reset this and they carried on.
Performance 29: Mr Brownlie coughed during the first scene in the cafe and has pulled a muscle in his back. The sweetie egg fell out of Lucy’s bum prior to the cue this evening. Lucy did a slightly different movement, which we think was the cause. It caused a great deal of hilarity. Mr Brownlie helped her reset this and they carried on.
The Night Before Christmas, Salisbury Playhouse
Performance 5: A child in the audience suggested using a stick to get Father Christmas out of the chimney. Katherine Potter used the other end of the feather duster. Alas, it did not work.
Performance 14: There was too much smoke during The Magic Song to get Father Christmas unstuck; meaning it lingered on stage and Glyn Kerslake looked as if he was in a Kate Bush video.
Performance 15: A parent in the front row had to retrieve a stray Malteser from the stage nearby Lara Stubbs just before the instrumental of Did You See Him.
Solaris, Edinburgh Lyceum
Quackie, The Astro Duck, bounced into the front row of the auditorium after being thrown. He has little or no regard for the fourth wall.