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Investigation underway after West End theatre ceiling collapses on audience

By | Published on Friday 20 December 2013

Nimax Theatres

It may have occurred at Theatreland’s Apollo Theatre (as opposed to the other Apollo venue over in Hammersmith that’s better known for music and comedy), but the live sector at large is likely to watch with interest as investigators work out how a ceiling could collapse at a West End theatre injuring 76 people, seven seriously.

The incident occurred during an almost sell-out performance of the National Theatre’s show ‘The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time’. Audience members report of hearing a cracking noise and seeing dripping water before a large section of ornate plasterwork fell from the roof, with debris seemingly landing on all levels of the 775 capacity venue.

Emergency services were called as a panicked audience evacuated the building at about 8.15pm last night. According to reports, 76 people suffered injuries with 58 being taken to hospital, and seven incurring serious though not life threatening injuries. It’s still not clear what caused the ceiling collapse.

Speaking to the BBC, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Graham Ellis, said last night: “We’ve manage to stabilise the situation inside the theatre, we’re working closely with colleagues at Westminster City Council, their building surveyors. The scene has now been sterilized, nobody is going in there and investigations have started”.

While the impact of the ceiling collapse could have been much worse, in that there were no fatalities, questions are now likely to be asked as to how the incident was able to occur, and whether there were any failings in the management and regulation of the building. And while incidents such as this at the capital’s entertainment venues are very rare, all eyes will be on the venue’s owners and the local authority’s licensing unit for reassurances about safety elsewhere.

Although Apollo operator Nimax Theatres is yet to make any comment on its social media channels, a spokesman for the company last night called the incident “shocking and upsetting” adding that an investigation was under way and that “our thoughts are with the audience and staff”.