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Show Stop At The 1st Night Of 'Cock'. Full Report From The Audience

By Daz Gale


Tonight was the first preview of the eagerly anticipated revival of Mike Bartlett's Cock starring Taron Egerton and Jonathan Bailey. I usually like to do a first night post for any new shows I go to, letting people know what to expect but not actually reviewing the show until press night. Tonight is a bit different as we experienced a rather terrifying show stop. Here's what happened:



Cock is a one act play which was advertised as running 1 hour 45 minutes without an interval. Approximately 90 minutes into the play, with less than 15 minutes to go came an intense scene with all four actors as the play neared its climax. Suddenly, Taron Egerton collapsed on to the stage. Because of the nature of the scene I thought this was part of the play but it soon became very clear this was not meant to happen and something had gone very wrong.


Both Phil Daniels and Jonathan Bailey said "Stop the show" with Phil adding "First aid". The audience looked on in horror as Taron lay on the stage with his castmates surrounding him. A doctor was found in the audience and brought on to the stage to check on Taron - then the safety curtain came down.



The audience were told to stay in our seats until about 25 minutes into the show stop when the general manager of the Ambassadors Theatre advised us in an announcement that they were still deciding whether the show could continue or not and that it would be another 15 minutes, with all the bars then reopening as audience members milled around the theatre, shocked at what they had witnessed and worried about Taron.


Finally, after 45 minutes, the general manager, Chelsea, reappeared on stage alongside the shows director, Marianne Elliott. In a speech, Marianne assured us that Taron had been checked out by a doctor and was absolutely fine but it had been decided that he would not be able to continue with the show that evening. However, the show was going to go on with his understudy, Joel Harper-Jackson standing in for him. After a few more minutes, the show finally restarted with Joel effortlessly stepping in to Tarons large shoes and an audience relieved that Taron was ok.



An official statement from the production reads "During this evening's first preview of Mike Bartlett's play Cock at the Ambassadors Theatre, Taron Egerton fainted towards the end of the performance. A doctor who was in the audience attended to Taron immediately after the incident, and whilst he felt fine, it was decided that Taron's understudy, Joel Harper-Jackson would continue in the role to complete the performance."


So what happened? While we don't know for sure, I would imagine it may have been to do with the heat on stage - with the lights bouncing off a reflective set making the lead stars noticeably hot with both Taron and Jonathan visibly sweating throughout. There were no warning signs before Taron fainted with him having no problem acting his lines just moments before.



The rest of the show went off without a hitch with the four players restarting a minute before their unexpected show stop. While all the cast members were amazing in the roles, Joel Harper-Jackson should be especially commended for how he stepped up at the very last minute on the very first preview no less. If understudies and swings don't always get the credit they deserve, Joel tonight was a fine example of why they are the lifeblood of the industry - without whom there would be no shows.


As for the show itself, you'll have to come back later this month to see what I thought about it in full, but I will say this for now - it is potentially one of the best plays I have ever seen with all cast members exceptional in their performances, particular Taron who demonstrated with ease why he is such a respected Award winning actor.



I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of the staff at the Ambassadors theatre for how calmly they handled such a difficult and unexpected situation. With professionalism and organisation, they ensured nobody panicked and Taron received medical care instantly. Sending my best wishes to Taron who I hope feels better and can still feel proud for the amazing performance he gave tonight.

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