Bad Behaviour in Theatres: What’s the worst?

We all know those moments in the Theatre that get our goat. People talking, phones going off, rude or antisocial behaviour….but what’s the one thing that makes you seethe more than any other? Let us know in our online poll. We’re looking for the top ten most annoying habits, so please share and let your friends vote too – and if we’ve missed something, please add it and we’ll include it!

You can vote more than once so don’t worry if you have more than one pet peeve.

We’d also love to hear if you’ve had a truly terrible experience or found a great or funny way to deal with annoying behaviour – leave us a comment and get it off your chest!

4 thoughts on “Bad Behaviour in Theatres: What’s the worst?

  • I was at a show seated behind a group of well-dressed 60-somethings. In front of them was a (very well-behaved) teenage school group. Midway through the first act, someone’s mobile rang. Original Nokia tone. SUPER loud. Nobody made any attempt to turn it off. No embarrassed fumbling in bags, nothing. It just went on and on and on. The actors valiantly continued (it was a serious play). At the interval, the posh lady leant down and berated the school kids over the phone incident. They all protested it wasn’t them, but she was having none of it. At the end of the show, I overheard her husband when he realised it had been his phone. NEITHER OF THEM APOLOGISED to the teenagers or anyone else. I was appalled.


  • As a House Manager I have to say the most frustrating thing is people complaining days after the show, sometimes after the show has left the building. If only they would say something at the time we could actually do something constructive to help.


  • For previews of Billy Elliot we sat behind a woman with some sort of mental problem and her mother. The woman’s behavior was outrageous and really she shouldn’t have been at a show. Ten minutes in she checked out and began scribbling furiously on her comment card which was taped to each seat, while facing us! She kept holding the card up to read it. When my husband politely told her she was being distracting, she barked “I don’t care! I hate this show! ” She fidgeted thru the entire first act, at times lifting her jacket up slowly to cover her head, blocking our view. Late in the first act there was a technical problem and the lights went on. I found an usher while the woman was telling me she was going to have ME thrown out. As her mother was taking her out, she couldn’t find her blackberry. I think it feel out of her pocket. “Those gays style my blackberry! ” she screamed. It was a horrible experience. I left out a lot of details, too.

    Mental illness is no laughing matter and I feel bad for anyone dealing with it. But it’s also a piss-off when you shelled out $300 to see a show only to have the first act completely ruined.


  • a fair number of these I have never seen, and some may be things about which someone has no choice and : surely someone has the right not to come back for the second half, or not to clap, if they’ve been given a bad night. Theatre is not a religion.


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