The soul singer Beverley Knight has lambasted raucous theatregoers who she said disrupted a performance of the West End musical she is starring in.
In a tweet posted on Thursday evening after the show, The Drifters Girl, Knight said: “Ok. If your intention is to come to the theatre, get rat-arsed, make a scene, disrupt the show thus causing a show-stop?
“My advice is stay your ass at home. People pay to come to the theatre to be entertained, not to endure your foolishness. Done.”
She added that she had been “fuming”, and that it was the second night in a row that audience members had caused disruption.
Responding to Knight’s post, a member of Thursday’s audience tweeted that “people were drinking throughout, so by the second half they were joining in with the singing & drowning the cast out. There was a lot of lurching in the interval. Perhaps limit the amount of drinks sold & not allow people to bring bottles in from outside?”
Another person tweeted: “I went to the show and wasn’t too far from the person that disrupted the show which she should be ashamed of. I didn’t think the audience drowned out the cast at all some people sang along and was just enjoying the brilliant show.”
A spokesperson for production said: “Last night at the Garrick theatre, two audience members had to be escorted out of the building by theatre staff for loud and abusive behaviour during the performance of The Drifters Girl. The cast left the stage whilst this happened, before resuming and completing the performance.
“This is an isolated incident, however both The Drifters Girl and Nimax Theatres would ask all patrons to behave in a responsible, respectful manner when attending a performance.”
The Drifters Girl, at the Garrick theatre in London’s West End, is about the female manager of the all-male vocal group, The Drifters. Knight plays Faye Treadwell, who was one of the first prominent African American women in music management.
The Guardian’s review said of the show: “The music in the show is a triumph – how could it not be with Beverley Knight’s almighty voice? …. Knight blows us away with each number and there is a particularly inventive rendition of Ben E King’s Stand By Me. Her character squares up to a sexist industry that puts her down and pats her bottom.”
Knight, often described as the queen of British soul, was awarded an MBE in 2006 in recognition of her contribution to British music. Her hit singles include Shoulda Woulda Coulda and Come As You Are.
On the long thread below her Twitter post, one person said there had been: “Lots of drunk folk getting up and down during the show when we came last week.” Another contributor who had seen the show recently said: “Ours and others enjoyment was impacted by the selfishness of 2 audience members who spoke at volume and argued with people when asked to quieten down.”
In response to suggestions that theatres stop selling alcohol, Knight said: “Thing is they rely on the revenue that the bar receives. It’s tricky. Most folk who come along are not utter idiots.”
Complaints about audience behaviour are not uncommon, with mobile phones, coughing, chatting and eating among the offences.
In 2018, the actor Mark Rylance said disruptive audiences were the fault of actors not “telling the story well enough”.
“Surely they [audiences] should be allowed to do what they want – if they’re making noise then you’re not holding them. You’re not telling the story well enough. But to complain about them, that can’t be right,” he said in a speech.