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Andrew Scott halted Hamlet soliloquy after theatregoer used laptop to email

The actor, who was starring in the Shakespeare play in 2017, stopped during its renowned soliloquy

Andrew Scott as Hamlet in a 2017 production of the play.

To bcc or not to bcc – that was the question facing a theatregoer watching Andrew Scott’s performance of Hamlet.

The actor, best known as Fleabag’s “hot priest”, has revealed he halted the renowned soliloquy in Shakespeare’s play when an audience member took out a laptop to send emails.

The actor decided not to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous theatre etiquette during his run in the 2017 production of Hamlet at London’s Almeida theatre, for which he earned an Olivier nomination.

Speaking to the Happy Sad Confused film podcast, Scott said there was “no way” he could continue with the speech, and refused to resume until the man put his laptop away.

“When I was playing Hamlet, a guy took out his laptop – not his phone, his laptop – while I was in the middle of ‘To be or not to fucking be’,” said the actor, who said he thought the offending audience member was sending emails.

“I was pausing and [the stage team] were like, ‘Get on with it’ and I was like, ‘There’s no way.’ I stopped for ages.”

A woman next to the laptop user appeared to alert him to the situation and he finally stopped.

“He had absolutely no doubts,” added Scott, who was on the podcast to promote his current film All of Us Strangers.

Scott’s experience is one of many accounts of poor etiquette by British theatre audiences in recent years. Last April, police were called to a Manchester performance of The Bodyguard musical after staff at the Palace theatre, who were attempting to hush an audience member singing loudly, were met with “unprecedented levels of violence”, according to the venue’s front of house supervisor.

In November 2022, the Royal Opera House handed a lifetime ban to a heckler who shouted “rubbish” at a 12-year-old actor during a production of Handel’s opera Alcina.

In February 2022, a production of Into the Woods at Belfast’s Lyric theatre had to be halted at the interval after complaints from cast members that audience members were talking and moving around the auditorium.

In December 2021, the Drifters Girl star Beverley Knight complained on social media about the behaviour of two theatregoers who had to be escorted out of a performance.

A survey last year by the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (Bectu) found that 90% of theatre venue employees had experienced or witnessed unacceptable audience behaviour, including assaults, vandalism and racist language.

In response to a rising number of such incidents, the union launched Anything Doesn’t Go, a campaign to tackle antisocial behaviour.


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