Four hospitalised after partial ceiling collapse in London theatre

Incident occurred during Death Of A Salesman show in West End’s Piccadilly Theatre

Part of the ceiling collapsed above the grand circle in the theatre. Photograph: Kieran Dunn/PA Wire

Part of the ceiling collapsed above the grand circle in the theatre. Photograph: Kieran Dunn/PA Wire

 

A theatre in London’s West End has been evacuated after part of its ceiling collapsed during a show.

Emergency services were called to Piccadilly Theatre on Denman Street shortly before 8pm on Wednesday, after part of the ceiling crashed down into the auditorium.

Witnesses described hearing screams from audience members, who had been watching Death Of A Salesman at the time.

About 1,100 people were evacuated from the theatre building, London Fire Brigade said.

Four people were taken to hospital after paramedics treated the injured at the scene, a London Ambulance Service spokesman said.

Journalist Martin George (41) who was sitting in the grand circle, said: “About 10 minutes into the performance, you could hear this slight dripping sound in the [grand] circle and people were looking around, wondering what was happening, but the play carried on.

“As the minutes passed, the dripping became more frequent and it sounded like more water was coming through the ceiling, causing a few people to get up and move.

“The sound eventually got so loud that we stood up and started to leave, as we were wondering what was going to happen.

“Then, as we stood up, this huge chunk of ceiling, about three to four metres across, crashed down.

“There were people screaming at that point and everyone got up and streamed down the stairs.”

Firefighters outside the Piccadilly Theatre after it was evacuated. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire
Firefighters outside the Piccadilly Theatre after it was evacuated. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

Falling debris

Death Of A Salesman star Wendell Pierce, who plays protagonist Willy Loman, told a crowd outside the theatre: “I did not mean for it to go like this.

“We are so honoured that you came tonight. We are so sorry that unfortunately this happened.”

Three men and two women were treated by paramedics at the scene for cuts and injuries caused by falling debris, the ambulance service said.

“Four of them were then taken to hospital and one was discharged after treatment,” a London Ambulance Service spokesman said.

“A further two people declined treatment at the scene.”

The Met Police tweeted: “Everyone is out of the theatre. A few people have suffered minor injuries. Road closures in place. Motorists advised to use alternative routes.”

London Fire Brigade said in a tweet: “Firefighters are attending the Piccadilly Theatre where a section of plaster has fallen from the ceiling during a performance. Around 1,100 people evacuated the theatre before we arrived.”

It is not the first time a ceiling has collapsed in one of London’s theatres.

In 2013, about 80 people were injured, seven seriously, after part of the Apollo theatre’s ceiling collapsed on top of them.

More than 700 people were inside the Shaftesbury Avenue venue, which was 45 minutes into the National Theatre’s performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, when the incident took place. – PA