For panto comedy double Madame Cheri Trifle and Philippe Philoppe, the prospect of bringing the home down this Christmas was just a little extra literal than they’d like after crumbling concrete was detected of their panto venue in Redhill, Surrey.
“I’ve never had to think about concrete so much,” comic Phil Reid advised Sky News, wearing his blue dungarees as Philoppe in a break from rehearsals.
“Now I’m like ‘ooh how’s your RAAC?’ It’s all a little bit bizarre,” he laughs.
Seven weeks in the past, they had been advised no one is allowed into the Harlequin Theatre as a result of strengthened autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) has been utilized in its roof.
Not eager to break Christmas, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council set about scrambling to seek out alternate options, which is how they’ve ended up with, they imagine, England’s first panto in a circus large prime.
The chief of the council, Councillor Richard Biggs, says they do not know how lengthy their theatre can be out of motion for.
“At the moment, all we can do is keep it shut until a survey is done and unfortunately there’s only a certain number of surveyors,” he explains.
“There are lots of schools with this concrete in and schools have got to take priority for the surveys, so we’re in a queue.”
While colleges and hospitals have made headlines, many different public buildings have been discovered to include RAAC, a defective concrete with a brief lifespan.
The Theatres Trust is conscious of 11 theatres presently closed due to RAAC, together with Forum Theatre Romiley, Motherwell Concert Hall & Theatre, Whitchurch Civic Centre and Midlands Arts Centre.
Rise in hospitals confirmed to be affected by unsafe concrete – full record
Over 40 extra colleges and schools recognized as having collapse-prone concrete
While the concrete has additionally been recognized on the National Theatre, The Hexagon, Warwick Arts Centre and Camberley Theatre, it says they have not closed as both mitigating measures are in place or it is not in public areas.
But theatres in Northampton and Southend that had closed because of RAAC have since been in a position to reopen.
The timing could not be worse – coming after COVID lockdowns, on prime of elevated operating prices for venues – for regional theatres. To have to shut their doorways at Christmas may have a extreme income affect, with pantomimes their large field workplace earners.
Redhill’s short-term repair is likely to be a tent however it’s a contented ending for the solid who weren’t positive if the present might go on.
Simon Blashford, who performs Madame Cheri Trifle, mentioned it is taken a Herculean effort.
“I know how hard the team have been working and I’m just blown away, I’m quite humbled.”
While discovering an alternate venue has been a problem, no less than now when the curtain comes down after every efficiency at Redhill’s large prime, they know there is not any likelihood of the ceiling coming down with it.
Beauty and the Beast: The Big Top Panto is on in Redhill Memorial Park between 8 – 31 December.