Surrey

Disabled man told to leave Guildford panto

Yvonne Arnaud theatre
Image caption Ian and Linda Woodhouse took James to see Jack and the Beanstalk at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre

The father of a man with learning disabilities has said his family may never return to a Surrey theatre after they were asked to leave its panto.

Ian and Linda Woodhouse and their son James, 37, were asked to leave 20 minutes into Jack and the Beanstalk at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford.

"They said a man in the front row had complained about the noise," said Mr Woodhouse. "It was devastating."

The theatre said it regretted that its actions caused distress and offence.

Mr Woodhouse, from Reigate, said he and his wife took James, who has a mental age of five, to the Yvonne Arnaud pantomime every year but had never before had a problem.

"He can be noisy but he just loves things like pantomimes where there is audience participation," he said.

This year's panto, which stars Bonnie Langford, ends on Sunday.

Money back

The family had a box at the side of the auditorium but were asked to leave the matinee performance by a member of staff.

"They gave us the money back for our tickets but that was about it," said Mr Woodhouse.

"My wife was in floods of tears."

Mr Woodhouse and his wife are members of the Friends of the Yvonne Arnaud group but he said they may not return.

"We have supported them whenever we can and have seen some wonderful productions but this has made us think about our future attendance.

"It makes us wonder about what the future holds and what we can do with James."

The theatre said it would have preferred to move the family to a more suitable position but the theatre was full.

They were invited to attend another performance as the theatre's guests.

"As a result of this issue we are instituting a fresh review of our access procedures... including information provided to audience members and staff training," it said in a statement.

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