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Paul Currie: Soho Theatre bans comedian after Jewish people reportedly ‘hounded out’ of show



A theatre in London has banned a comedian from performing there after Jewish audience members were reportedly made to feel unsafe at a show.

Soho Theatre, a former synagogue in the West End, said it “will not tolerate intimidation of audience members due to their nationality, race, religion or beliefs” following an incident at the end of a performance by comedian Paul Currie on Saturday night.

Officers are also making inquiries, the Metropolitan Police has said, after the incident was reported on Monday.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said it was “assisting Jewish guests who were reportedly hounded out” of the theatre.

The organisation said it understood an Israeli man and his partner both left the venue, followed by a Jewish group of four, after the Palestinian flag was produced at the end of the performance.

People in the audience of about 200 were encouraged to stand for both the Ukrainian and Palestinian flags, the CAA said. The Israeli man was then reportedly asked why he had not stood and, according to the organisation, said he had enjoyed the show until the Palestinian flag appeared.

Currie then swore and “yelled” at the man to leave, the CAA said.

The comedian has been contacted for comment. According to the Daily Mail, he has posted what appears to be a response on Instagram, sharing a Palestine poster with the caption: “I will not quietly nor politely sit and make house within the depravity of this killing machine.”

However, his Instagram account is now set to private.

In their statement, Soho Theatre said: “On Saturday evening, following the end of Paul Currie’s show Shtoom, Jewish members of the audience were subjected to verbal abuse and the performer aggressively demanding they leave the theatre.

“Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages, now or ever.

“We will not be inviting Paul Currie back to perform at our venue.”

The venue added: “Whilst we robustly support the right of artists to express a wide range of views in their shows, intimidation of audience members, acts of antisemitism or any other forms of racism will not be tolerated at Soho Theatre.

“We are continuing our investigation, discussing the incident with that evening’s audience and consulting with the police. We are working with the Campaign Against Antisemitism to meet with members of the audience who were affected. We are taking professional advice to safeguard the much-valued inclusivity of Soho Theatre.”

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A Met Police spokesperson said the force was aware of the incident, adding: “We understand why it was upsetting for those involved and we note the venue has issued a statement confirming they are looking into what took place.”

Inquiries are “ongoing”, the statement said.

Shtoom was described on the Soho Theatre website as a “unique, surrealist, dada punk-clown, non-verbal experience from the award-winning Belfast comedy artist Paul Currie”.

As the venue is a registered charity, the Charity Commission has said it is assessing information.

A spokesperson for CAA said: “What the Jewish audience members have recounted is atrocious, and we are working with them and our lawyers to ensure that those who instigated and enabled it are held to account.

“These allegations are of deeply disturbing discriminatory abuse against Jews. Comedians are rightly given broad latitude, but hounding Jews out of theatres is reminiscent of humanity’s darkest days, and must have no place in central London in 2024.”

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