October 27, 2020

Palladium

London Theater

Glasgow Pavillion boss brands 1,000 Arsenal fan event at London theatre ‘madness’

A Glasgow theatre boss has blasted a decision to allow 1,000 football fans into a London theatre.

Iain Gordon says it was “madness” to let the event go ahead, when Scottish fans are still banned from watching teams outdoors.

An Audience with ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was held with a 50 per cent capacity audience at the London Palladium.

And the Daily Record reports the vocal crowd even erupted into football chants – when music continues to be banned in public to stop people talking too loudly or singing.

Mr Gordon said: “How can they sit in a theatre with hardly a space between everyone to talk about football but cannot sit outside in a football stadium to watch a game?”

Mr Gordon pointed out the differences between rules at the Palladium and football fans attending games.

Referring to photos from The Palladium, he explained: “This doesn’t make sense. There is hardly an empty seat in the house.

“How can the London Palladium have a sold out performance last night with a football manager Arsene Wenger with what looks like no self-distancing?

“Even the queues outside the venue there was no self-distancing.”

Mr Gordon has used the lockdown in Scotland – which has shut down all theatres and music venues – to make improvements to ventilation systems at The Pavilion and introduce high standard hand sanitizers and toilet flush systems.

He said he only wants to re-open when the R number looks under control and when other venues feel it is safe to do so.

The Scottish reopening of theatres has been pushed back from October 1 after infection rates rose.

Mr Gordon said: “Is there one rule for us and another for the London arts elite?

“This goes against all the current surveys that say people don’t want to return to theatres.

“This all seems irresponsible but clearly ammunition for us all to re-open theatres and football clubs to open stadiums and welcome fans back.”

The London Palladium has gigs by Van Morrison and Debbie Harry coming up soon, but Mr Gordon thinks Track and Trace will make future events impossible if the law is followed.

He added: “It’s beyond me to think that from that crowd somebody in the next few days does not report symptoms.

“That would effectively mean every person in the audience self isolating, all the staff. The whole thing then collapses.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me as it stands.”

In July, singer Beverley Knight took to the Palladium stage for its first post-lockdown performance.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatre opened at 30 per cent capacity, to an audience including industry figures and the public, to demonstrate stringent hygiene methods he hopes can be used to enable UK theatres to reopen.

Visitors had staggered arrival times, wore mandatory face masks and, while queueing, used mobile phones to fill out NHS test and trace forms and preorder drinks for in-seat service.

After contactless security checks and ticket scans, temperatures were taken with thermal imaging cameras.

LW Theatres, which owns the Palladium, insisted there was at least 1m space between all parties last night, allowing half of the 2,200 capacity to attend.

Chief executive Rebecca Kane Burton tweeted: “Social distancing was and is at the heart of all planning of events.”

She added that “tens of thousands” of pounds had been spent on ensuring there was a “bubble” around each party.

The Record has contacted The Palladium for comment.