Camden theatre warns plays could be ruined by vacuuming should HS2 homes plan go ahead

Camden People's Theatre. Picture: Google Streetview

Camden People's Theatre. Picture: Google Streetview - Credit: Archant

Dartmouth Park resident Benedict Cumberbatch has been at pains to remind his audience how distracting mobile phones can be during performances.

Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet at the Barbican. Picture: Johan Persson

Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet at the Barbican. Picture: Johan Persson - Credit: Archant

The actor, currently appearing in Hamlet at the Barbican theatre, complained earlier this month it was “mortifying” to see the red lights on camera phones as they recorded him trying to reel off a “To be, or not to be”.

But his woes pale in comparison to what a Camden theatre might have to put up with.

Amber Massie-Blomfield, executive director of Camden People’s Theatre (CPT) in Euston, has warned its own actors could see their plays being interrupted by the sound of vacuuming, washing machines and other domestic chores.

It comes as developers submitted plans to turn the CPT building’s upper floors into five flats, all part of a project to find replacement homes for those whose houses will be demolished as part of the controversial High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link.

Heathman has read a letter sent by Ms Massie-Blomfield to Camden Council, warning councillors the theatre could face ruin should it go ahead as planned.

She wrote: “We are unaware of any other theatres where residential properties sit directly above a performance space.

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“Currently the room above the theatre [a former martial arts studio now occupied by live-in guardians] cannot be used during performances, as even the sound of someone in bare feet crossing the room significantly disrupts our activity.

“The question of how the impact of sound from typical domestic activities such as vacuuming, using a washing machine etc. will be mitigated, should be addressed.

“Furthermore we are concerned by the suggestion that a noise restriction may need to be imposed upon the theatre.”

The chair of the theatre’s board, Kate McGrath, described the upcoming period for the CPT as a “crucial moment”, having just joined the Arts Council’s National Portfolio for the first time.

The theatre, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, said having upstairs neighbours could risk its future viability.

Developers have conducted a sound insulation report “to ensure that the use of the theatre does not cause a significant adverse noise”, but Ms Massie-Blomfield said the report was flawed.

She added: “Whilst a survey has been carried out, in our understanding this only measured the volume of a typical performance in our theatre, rather than measuring the highest volumes created by our activity. We have taken independent advice regarding the higher levels of volume which suggests additional insulation to that proposed in the report would be required.”