The craziest trigger warning yet… London play about Hollywood’s Groucho Marx ‘contains prop cigar’
March of the woke warriors: The craziest trigger warning yet… London play about Hollywood’s Groucho Marx ‘contains prop cigar’
- The Arcola Theatre in East London send trigger warnings for Groucho Marx play
- Dinner With Groucho imagines a meeting between Marx and writer TS Eliot
- Ticket holders told: ‘Content warning: Contains use of haze and prop cigar’
With his bushy moustache and ever-present cigar, Groucho Marx is one of the most recognisable stars in Hollywood history.
Yet in what may be the most ridiculous and unnecessary content warning yet, audiences at a new stage show about the wisecracking comic actor are being cautioned that it features a ‘prop cigar’.
The Arcola Theatre in Dalston, East London, is sending the warning to anyone who buys tickets for Dinner With Groucho, a play which imagines a meeting between the Marx brother and the American writer TS Eliot.
The warning states: ‘We’re looking forward to welcoming you to Dinner with Groucho… Content warning: Contains use of haze and prop cigar.’ A similar notice is posted on the door of the auditorium.
BEYOND A JOKE: Groucho with his trademark cigar, which is now subjected to a warning notice
A spokeswoman for the Arcola (pictured) said its warning was in line with official advice
Steve Bennett, editor of the comedy website Chortle, said: ‘Groucho’s cigar defined his enduring image as much as his greasepaint moustache, wiggling eyebrows and wisecracking puns. So of course a play about the comic genius was going to feature a cigar.
‘What next? A warning that a Tommy Cooper tribute act may contain fezzes? Or that a Ken Dodd impersonation may contain harrowing scenes of tickling sticks?’
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes added: ‘I simply do not understand the fashion for infantilising an audience, treating them as if they were three years old.’
And Maureen Lipman said: ‘Groucho Marx without a cigar is like a footballer without a tattoo – and it should be a lit cigar. Are we going to stage Look Back In Anger with a gaslighting alert? Where do these warnings end?’
One audience member who attended the show last week reported that several prop cigars are used in the performance – but they are not actually lit.
Dinner With Groucho, which has been written by Irish playwright Frank McGuinness, was inspired by the real-life friendship between Marx and Eliot.
The Marx Brothers, sons of German immigrants to New York. Left to right: Leonard or Chico, Herbert or Zeppo, Julius Henry or Groucho and Adolf or Harpo
In 1961, they began a correspondence when poet Eliot sent a fan letter to Marx asking for a signed photograph. They finally met over dinner three years later.
The new play, which stars Coronation Street actor Ian Bartholomew as Groucho, imagines that meeting.
A spokeswoman for the Arcola said its warning was in line with official advice.
She said: ‘The Government’s Health and Safety Executive recommends that entertainment venues using smoke or haze in productions should print warnings on or with the tickets and post warning notices on the premises. This is standard practice across London.’