One of the cardinal rules of going to a theater in the modern age is you must turn off your cell phone. And definitely don’t watch England’s dramatic win over Colombia in the FIFA World Cup while sitting in the front row of Titanic the Musical.
Two women with prime seats for a July 3 performance at the Nottingham Theatre Royal in England decided to cheer on their national team during the penalty shootout at the end of the game. BBC News brought our attention to this grave breach of theater etiquette and the ensuing social media fallout.
Some of the production’s actors took to Twitter to voice their outrage after the show. Kieran Brown wrote, “Dumbfounded. 2 ladies, 1 older 1 middle aged, slap bang front row clearly watching football on phones during the most poignant moment of lifeboats scene, cheering & giggling like stupid schoolgirls.” He went on to suggest the women should be marched out in disgrace.
Cast member Niall Sheehy also chimed in, writing, “To the two women in the front row tonight who not only followed the penalty shootout on their phone, but also said ‘yesss’ on each goal scored, you are the most ignorant audience members I have ever had the misfortune to perform in front of.”
Sheehy followed that tweet up with a request that the women “Please avoid attending any future theatrical productions.”
Sheehy has received both support and criticism for his comments. On Thursday, he clarified his words, saying, “My phrasing may have been too aggressive re: the audience members. For that, I happily apologise, but I stand by my opinion that they were inconsiderate to others in the audience.”
The Nottingham Theatre Royal offered its own take on the situation, saying the World Cup-watching women showed disrespect to the actors and audience. “Our stewards are always vigilant, but we also rely on people using their common sense,” the theater wrote.
The theater said all audience members had been asked to turn off their phones prior to the performance.
Titanic the Musical is in residence at the Theatre Royal through July 7, which is also when England meets Sweden for a World Cup quarterfinals match. Here’s hoping the audience doesn’t sink the show with their smartphones on Saturday.
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