Standing Ovations; Let The Audience Decide

Over the last twelve months, you could be forgiven for thinking that each trip to the theatre is turning into a farce. The Stage has mentioned theatre etiquette around ten times over the past twelve months.

The latest rant by Associate Editor and Joint Lead Critic Mark Shenton is towards the increase in standing ovations. He proclaims To the increasingly wide list of bad audience behaviour, do we now need to add the standing ovation?

While a lot of the major touring musicals have led to standing ovation, it still remains, outside of the M25 anyway, that it isn’t a given. Even when it does happen who are we to stop someone showing their enjoyment of a production? Just because some individuals think a production is not the best, it doesn’t mean that others don’t think it is.

An interesting case study from inside the M25 was two trips to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. On my first trip, the whole of the Palace, myself included rewarded the cast with a full standing ovation. The second time I visited, it was only a part standing ovation. Was I in the right for standing up? The correct answer is no one was in the right or wrong. If you thoroughly enjoyed a production and then you should reward it; no matter what other people.

What cannot be tolerated in the industry is a select few preventing others from sharing their enjoyment because they don’t think the production is worthy. Of late, it seems some people within the industry are trying to turn back the clock to a time of elitism and snobbery. Perhaps they would prefer it if we returned to the times when those of greater social standing remained in the dress circle so they don’t have to witness the riff-raff providing a standing ovation?

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