London's Apollo Theatre Partial Ceiling Collapse Attributed to "Weak and Old Materials"

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24 Mar 2014

Ambulances outside the Apollo Theatre
Ambulances outside the Apollo Theatre

The partial collapse of the ceiling at the West End's Apollo Theatre in December 2013, which left some 76 theatregoers injured and led to the suspension of performances of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time that was playing there at the time, has been attributed to "weak and old materials."

According to a BBC report on Radio 4's "You and Yours" program, broadcast March 24, an official letter from Westminster City Council states hessian wadding embedded within the ceiling was getting weaker over time and led to the collapse.

According to the BBC, "The local authority is still carrying out an investigation into exactly what happened, but it has sent out a letter to historic theatres in the West End stating that the hessian wadding - a type of sackcloth - mixed into the plaster of Paris, was becoming progressively weak. The health and safety team at the council is recommending that all suspended ornate ceilings are thoroughly inspected as a matter of urgency."

The theatre is due to reopen March 26 with the transfer of the National Theatre of Scotland's co-production of Let the Right One In, seen at the Royal Court last December. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time will reopen at the adjoining Gielgud Theatre in June.

Timothy Jones from English Heritage told the "You and Yours" program: "It was a terrible shock and I know that the owners were devastated by what happened. It was very, very unfortunate. There are many, many possibilities about what happened and I hope we get to the bottom of it. But the important thing is that we put all that behind us, and the show will go on."