Performers are regularly ushered onstage with the exhortation to “break a leg”. Yet it was almost worse for a stagehand at the Edinburgh Fringe after an audience member’s perfume sent him into anaphylactic shock.
Bryn Jones, 22, has been working on the show The Dumb Waiter, which is on at the New Town Theatre for the next 10 days.
During a performance the scent worn by an audience member meant his throat tightened and he struggled for breath. He was in a “pretty bad way,” he told the Daily Record, which suggested Mr Jones almost died.
Mr Jones needed a friend to bring his medication but managed to carry on the technical duties during the play. When his friend arrived, he was lying on the floor and his face had turned blue.
“A friend of mine came into the room, grabbed me and gave me what I needed just as the show ended,” he said.
Mr Jones was effectively trapped during the performance. “I thought it would be good to get outside. But the only entrance out is behind the audience, so I couldn’t really leave,” he said.
“I’d have had to cross the stage and move through the audience, but I didn’t want to interrupt the show.”
Scents do not generally trigger such a dramatic reaction. “The chemicals in some of these perfumes are not usually too much of an issue for me,” he said, adding: “I haven’t had a reaction quite like this.”
The Dumb Waiter, written by Harold Pinter, is being staged by theatre company the Spartan Ensemble. The claustrophobic play about two contract killers awaiting orders from their absentee master runs twice a day for an hour. It stars Ian Watt and Paul Comrie as the two hitmen. The play, a dark comedy, was first performed in 1960.
Mr Jones managed to see out the performance and make it to the Bedlam Theatre to work on his third performance of the day.
During the Fringe there has been a series of mishaps, including from performers on stage. Comedian Marcus Brigstocke is on crutches for the month after injuring his leg during a set, prompting a visit to A&E the following morning.
The Play That Goes Wrong did go wrong after actor Dave Hearn was thrown over a sofa in a fight sequence during a performance and dislocated his shoulder, also resulting in a trip to hospital.
The potential pitfalls has not kept the audiences away, as this year is set for a huge leap on 2012, which took a hit during the Olympics. Some venues saw audiences drop by more than a fifth during the clash with the Games but made up some sales towards the end of the festival.
The Fringe, which boasts 2,871 shows, has seen crowds soar. Charlie Wood, co-director of Underbelly, one of the largest comedy venues, said sales were up 22.5 per cent this year on its five-year average. Sales at the Assembly Rooms, another major venue, are up 30 per cent over last year.