Despite endless pre-performance notices warning people to silence or switch off their handsets, it appears some theater-goers still can’t get it into their heads that a phone going off during a production will, put simply, screw up the flow of the show.
Kevin Spacey has become the latest actor to be interrupted by the off-putting sound of a ringing mobile phone, though his response clearly proved a hit with the audience.
“If you don’t answer that, I will,” Spacey barked at the culprit during his one-man show at The Old Vic theater in London.
Spacey was performing the part of 19th-century pioneering civil rights lawyer Clarence Darrow on the opening night of a one-man show to celebrate the end of the Oscar-winning actor’s decade-long tenure as artistic director at the Vic.
The phone reportedly started going off during an important courtroom scene. While its owner apparently ignored the ringing, Spacey, staying in character, let fly, a response that garnered an enthusiastic round of applause from the audience (with the likely exception of one very red-faced person).
Of course, Spacey wasn’t the first and – unless theaters install some kind of blocking technology or insist audience members chuck their mobiles in a bucket prior to a performance – won’t be the last stage performer left to deal with an audience member whose handset starts sounding mid-show.
But how best to react to such an interruption? A witty putdown, perhaps? A calm but firm admonishment? Or an intimidating mental meltdown that has the culprit wondering if they’ll be leaving the theater in the back of an ambulance, the sound of their still-ringing handset more muffled than before….