Monday evening pandemonium was narrowly averted by one vigilant man and his voice. The theater’s fire alarm went off during the first act of “The Mikado” and a wave of anxiousness swept the audience. The manager came onto stage a minute later to explain that the fire alarm had gone off and that the audience should evacute the building.
The crowd by now was thoroughly worried and small arguments about what to do had broken out. A small scrum had formed around one of the exits and shouting from it was escalating. Then a man stood up and yelled above everything else: “Don’t Panic!”.
The audience quietened down and some measure of order was restored. Orderly lines formed for the exits and the audience was evacuated in a timely fashion with added assistance from theatre staff. We spoke to one middle aged woman about the incident: “I thought we were going to be in a mad fight to get out but when I heard ‘Don’t Panic!’ I regained rational thought. I realised that worrying was a silly thing to do in an emergency and I calmly left te building like everyone else.”
Unfortunately, the man that yelled the all-calming message laid claim to the cigarette that triggered the smoke alarm and was fined £5000 for the refunding of the audience and repair of everything that was broken during the near-panic.