Coming shortly after she campaigned in the House of Lords for some decrepit venues to be knocked down and rebuilt, McAuliffe — who was part of the original cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, a playhouse owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatres — has publicly complained about theatres she sees as unsafe and unhygienic. Writing in the Independent newspaper, McAuliffe asserts that during her time at the Palladium, she saw lumps of plaster fall from the ceiling onto a stalls audience-member, and the onstage cast was showered with glass thanks to a disintegrated window sill. In an unidentified venue, she complains that hot water was rare for showers, and that drains were blocked on-and-off for months.
She particularly dislikes the mice, which “even the National Theatre had . . . armies of them making their incontinent way into our food, make-up, towels and bedding.” She goes on to call for Lloyd Webber to appeal for government help with renovating theatres, and praises his fellow theatre owner, Cameron Mackintosh, for putting his own money into the upkeep of his venues. It may not be only McAuliffe who’s complaining. She cites fellow thespian and comedian Paul O’Grady as saying, “I looked the word ‘Palladium’ up in the dictionary. It said, ‘rat-infested pit.'"