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Londoner’s Diary: Real-life alarm bells for audience at Grenfell play

·4-min read

THERE was real drama at the new play about the Grenfell fire inquiry last night when the audience had to leave the theatre due to, of all things, a fire alarm. The incident occurred about 20 minutes into the performance of Value Engineering at the Tabernacle in west London.

The audience, which included Andy Harries, the main producer of TV show The Crown, and writer Rosie Boycott, initially thought the alarm was part of the play as the subject is that of a fire. But it went on and on. “I realised, like most of us, after about 30 seconds that this was for real,” said Harries. But it took about three minutes for the bemused audience to be told by the deputy stage manager that it was no joke, before they were asked to leave the theatre and wait in nearby Powis Square. It was another 30 minutes before the audience was informed there was no fire and that the alarm had been tinkered with.

Yet, even after the audience trudged back, the alarm sounded again just after the play had re-started. Groans all around before it quickly stopped — much to everyone’s relief. Even so, Nic Kent, the director, was summoned from home to work out what had happened. However, when asked, a diplomatic Kent said it was best not to speculate.

Jack Dee dishes out a Whippy-ing

ICE CREAM men, beware Jack Dee. The deadpan comic explains how one “came down our road much earlier than he should”, sparking a confrontation. Dee protested and the man stepped out of his van. “Have you ever seen an ice cream man not in in his ice cream van?” he asks the Off Menu podcast. “It’s just a different thing if he’s not in his right environment and I found it threatening.” Dee chose fight, not flight. “And so he got a slap, what I call a 99… he hasn’t come round since.” Let’s hope he was joking.

Co-star swoons over Chalamet

Sharon Duncan-Brewster (PA)
Sharon Duncan-Brewster (PA)

TIMOTHEE CHALAMET just can’t help but make people swoon. Sharon Duncan-Brewster, his co-star in Dune, left, is the latest to fall for his charms. When asked by an interview what it was like to work with him, she replied: “Ah, oh Timothée! Beautiful, gorgeous Timothée and what a lovely human being.” The actress added: “You just kind of look at him and think, ‘This is the heartthrob all these teenagers are screaming about’.” Not just teenagers?

A squiffy Marr keeps it surreal

Andrew Marr (Getty Images for BFI)
Andrew Marr (Getty Images for BFI)

ANDREW MARR knows booze and broadcasting don’t mix. When he was BBC Political Editor, he was drinking wth friends in Soho, only to be called to appear on the news at short notice. Marr sprinted drunkenly down Whitehall and into a link-up with Huw Edwards, where the alcohol garbled his words. “This was,” he said, “entirely the PM’s fault, he’s taken a big stick and he’s stuck it into a great big pile of flying ants”. Edwards looked confused. But nobody said anything, Marr explained to the London Press Club event hosted at the Royal Over-Seas League yesterday. Until the next day, that is. A secretary told him witheringly: “A little Salvador Dalí, dear”.

Louche is just so Soho, says India Rose

India Rose James (Hannah Young/REX)
India Rose James (Hannah Young/REX)

INDIA ROSE JAMES partied with burlesque dancers last night to mark the opening of new cocktail venue, Louche. “It’s very Soho,” the heiress smiled to us. Over at Fortnums, Shingai Shoniwa, Ross Turner and Rosie Tapner were at a bash raising money for WellChild. Elsewhere, actor Charlotte Hope was at the Raindance Film Festival gala showing of Best Sellers and model Sabrina Percy went to a Pomellato dinner at Harry’s Bar.


RISHI SUNAK has been out and about since delivering the Budget yesterday. He joined his whole team at the traditional Treasury watering hole the Two Chairmen yesterday and is in Bury today doing media rounds. But we have it on good authority that he really longs to unwind by going for a run with his labrador Nova. Too bouncy by half — give us a lie-down instead.


DEHENNA DAVISON says the Tory party is a world away from its Section 28 days. Davison, who is the first openly bisexual Conservative woman in the House of Commons, tells the New Statesman: “There are jokes that if you go to Tory conference you see just how gay the party is.” The Bishop Auckland MP adds: “That’s about right”.

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