Nine things even more annoying than people checking their phones during a theatre show

Using a mobile phone at the theatre is annoying, but Lynne Mortimer thinks there are some even more

Using a mobile phone at the theatre is annoying, but Lynne Mortimer thinks there are some even more irritating habits. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A small West End theatre is to try a new way of stopping audience members using their mobile phones during the performance.

The idea, borrowed from the Chinese, is to pick the offender out with a laser light and, hopefully, shame them into turning the phone off.

In which case, may I make a plea for all the other annoyances inflicted by theatregoers on sedate, old-fashioned ticket holders like myself.

There is little to beat the frustration of sitting behind someone who is checking their texts and emails bathed in the low glow of a smart phone screen… except for:

1. People who eat noisy confectionery… especially the ones that unwrap their Everton mint really, really slowly thinking no one will notice. Of course we notice. From the moment the boiled sweet is extracted from the crackly packet, everyone within a radius of three seats is on alert. We hear the turn of the cellophane wrapper and the small click as, eventually, it hits the teeth and the torture is over. In musicals, I have noticed there is a cacophony of unwrapping every time we get a song. Laser the packet.


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2. People who talk through overtures. I like overtures, they are part of the show. Zap them.

3. Fidgets. In many West End theatres the shallow rake in the auditorium means that a short-bodied woman like me who (inevitably) finds herself sat behind one of the five tallest people in the theatre has to watch the play between the shoulders of the people in front. But if the people in front are in a relationship, possibly still in the first throes of new romance, they tend to move together, then apart, then together etc. Each time you shift you have to change the gap you look through, which means you irritate the person behind you and so on around the stalls. Zap them.

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4. People who hog the arm rests so you end up with both arms pressed across your chest and end up with heartburn all the way through Act Two.

5. People who bring piles of shopping into the auditorium and stash them under the seat and impinge on your foot room.

6. People who put their feet on the back of your seat, making it fold a little.

7. People who have a hacking, uncontrollable cough and treat it with cellophane-wrapped mints that they undo really slowly.

8. People who hum along to the music.

9. People with unnecessarily big hair. I'm not unreasonable. A small cough, a fruit pastille, a selfie in the interval – I can live with those. But as for the rest: frame 'em and shame 'em.

•The views above are those of Lynne Mortimer.

•What annoys you most at the theatre? You can leave your comments below.

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