Terrified reporter locked in historic theatre

RESPECTED reporter Susan King, who works for the Sussex Express, found herself locked in the Theatre Royal Brighton last night (Monday March 5).

Here she recalls her terrifying experience: “Most frightening half-hour so far this year. I was locked in the Theatre Royal, Brighton last night, unable to find a way out.

“We’d watched Dreamboats and Petticoats (fabulous by the way,) got back to our car when I remembered I’d left my programme in the auditorium. I ran back but found the theatre was closed and in darkness. I rattled the swing doors but nobody heard.

“Two cast members outside asked someone on the balcony to let them in the ‘cast door’ so I followed. I headed up endless dark staircases and retraced my steps to the circle. All access doors were padlocked.

“Back into the corridors and down another echoing staircase until I found myself at the rear of the stage, surrounded by electronic equipment. Tried to swing the curtain but the steps into the stalls were blocked with a safety screen. Eventually I found myself in the laundry room. There were still no signs of life.

“After a few more corridor explorations, some of which led to fire doors - apparently unused for years - I found myself again backstage. A Phantom of the Opera moment - I thought I might find myself sailing over a candlelit subterranean lake with a masked man, or confronting a spectral Anne Boleyn with her head under her arm.

“A man appeared, presumably an engineer or electrician as he clearly knew his way around. He didn’t ask who I was or what I was doing there. He led me down another passageway and let me out into the street. Never has nighttime Brighton looked so welcoming.

“I failed to find my programme (necessary to write reviews) but learnt never again to linger during the final exodus from a theatre.

“The Theatre Royal clearly employs excellent security procedures but I did wonder what would happen to someone who, for example, needed to use a loo and failed to leave the building with the rest of the audience.

“By the way Mrs Lincoln, the play was wonderful.”