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Diary: Phone brings Andrew Scott Hamlet horror

Andrew Scott's performance in Hamlet was recently interrupted by a mobile phone ringing. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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If there’s anything that serious theatregoing folk will say separates them from the uncouth hoi polloi, it’s theatre etiquette. A favoured – and fervent – topic, if someone steps out of line it doesn’t take long for the knives to be out, usually on social media. And if there’s one thing that really gets the collective goat, it’s those pesky phones. Sure, chowing down on a McDonald’s chicken nugget share box in row B is hardly embraced, but there’s something about that shrill, repetitive, bleepy tone that sends a shockwave of rage.

An errant phone left on loud in the theatre has been ferociously opined on by many, and complaints come from audiences and performers alike. Richard Griffiths famously tried to banish an audience member whose phone was going off from the theatre, while Patti LuPone once snatched a ringing phone straight out of its owners hand and proceeded to walk off stage with it.

Hamlet star Andrew Scott has previously identified middle-aged audiences “who don’t know how to turn it off” as the leading suspects, so Tabard is wondering whether he can now confirm this to be the case, following an unfortunate incident during a recent performance of the play. A phone was said to have rang midway through the play’s climax, just as Hamlet’s dying body was being cradled by Horatio. Razor-sharp glares were shot in the direction of the offending audience member, along with much uncomfortable shuffling, until it finally stopped. Then it rang again.

Tabard sincerely hopes that something is done to curb such shameful debacles, and that, in the words of the sweet prince, the rest is silence.

Send stories to tabard@thestage.co.uk

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