London’s West End theatres infested with mice

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A comprehensive survey recently undertaken by the performers’ union Equity lifts the lid on West End back-stage conditions.

Equity has recently conducted an authoritative survey of working conditions in London’s West End theatres. Three-quarters of the actors and stage managers surveyed reported regular pest infestations – which included mice, rats and fleas. But mice seem to be the number one pest problem recorded.

When the actors were asked if there was evidence of pest infestations inside their dressing rooms 66% said yes, yet only 43% felt these infestations were dealt with quickly and effectively.

Comments from the performers included: “Our floors have been eaten by mice and they leave their faeces.” Another added: “Mice, mice, mice. Quite often there is an unpleasant smell which usually turns out to be a dead one!” A third commented: “We see and hear mice. They eat through food packaging and even through one of the girl’s warm-up tops”. And perhaps the most worrying of all was: “I had tiny bite marks on my lipstick recently when I left the lid off.”

Equity general secretary Christine Payne commented: “I knew it was bad out there, but I am really shocked by this! These findings mean that tonight, over 600 actors and stage managers will go to work knowing that they will probably see and smell vermin, both living and decomposing, in their work-place.


Mice take up a new career – acting!
“I accept that many West End theatres are old and difficult buildings to manage, but this is running out of control. These appalling conditions must come to an end.”

The survey was completed in February by nearly 350 performers and stage managers in 24 different theatres, many of them featuring world-famous shows. The following 24 theatres were involved in the survey: Adelphi, Aldwych, Apollo, Apollo Victoria, Cambridge, Criterion, Dominion, Fortune, Garrick, Her Majesty”s, London Palladium, Lyceum Theatre, New London, Old Vic, Palace, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Playhouse, Prince Edward’s, Prince of Wales, Queen’s, Savoy, Shaftesbury, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Victoria Palace.

One theatre that was excluded from the survey was the St Martin’s Theatre, home of the longest-running play in the world, The Mousetrap!

If your company has a contract with a West End theatre – watch out!

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