AN actor has spoken of his disappointment after an audience member at one of his performances forced his severely disabled son to leave the theatre for being too distracting.

Harry Boniface, 25, was attending a matinee performance of Into the Woods at The Swan Theatre on The Moors, Worcester, on April 21, in which his dad Martin Boniface was appearing.

Harry and his support worker left the theatre after being confronted several times by a female audience member who said his “noises were disrespectful and putting off the performers”, said Mr Boniface, 58.

“Harry has multiple and profound learning difficulties and can’t speak – instead he vocalises,” he explained.

“He was enjoying himself and was trying to tell the support worker what he could see going on.”

Mr Boniface, of Drakes Broughton, Pershore, said actors dressed as a cow and a wolf feature in the musical, and Harry would often make mooing or growling sounds whenever they appeared, for example.

“That’s how Harry interacts with the world, through a combination of signing and noises.”

Harry's auntie Elaine Ives and grandmother Pat Boniface were sitting with him and the support worker during the show.

Mr Boniface described the support worker as “absolutely mortified” when the woman began turning around in her seat to shush Harry before pressuring them to leave the performance.

“She tried to explain but the woman just turned her back on her. She wasn’t interested and was very rude.”

In the end, the support worker and Harry left early in the second act, which had very much upset the latter.

Mr Boniface, who was playing Cinderella’s father in the play, put on by Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Society, had taken up acting again a couple of years ago after a 30-year break.

He also appeared in HMS Pinafore last year, which Harry went to see as well.

And while he accepts the noise may have been distracting to the audience member, Mr Boniface said the woman “could’ve handled it better” by speaking to staff, as there were spare seats elsewhere.

“She was rude and discourteous. It’s such an out-dated attitude. It is a form of discrimination.

“But for her to speak for the whole cast, on behalf of us – she had no right to make that sort of assumption. I was incensed.

“Nobody was bothered, nobody was distracted, nobody felt disrespected.”

He said the decision had been made to bring Harry to the Saturday matinee performance, traditionally held early in the afternoon, as it often attracts more children and is a less formal atmosphere.

“As an actor, you know you are going to get a different atmosphere. We are seasoned enough to not get distracted.

“In fact, throughout the week we had seen a number of people with special needs attend and thoroughly enjoy themselves.

“It is great that we can bring pleasure to all people regardless of their circumstances.”

He said: “In today’s society, people should be more accepting and inclusive. We should be more accepting and understanding of people with learning difficulties.”

He emphasised that he is not speaking on behalf of The Swan or WODS.

“This [the incident] is no reflection on the Swan Theatre – the staff were in no way involved. They are a very inclusive organisation.”

He added: “I look forward to the day when this attitude is a thing of the past and if the lady concerned is reading this, then perhaps it is her that should have left.”

Chris Jaeger, chief executive of Worcester Live, which owns the theatre, said: "The Swan is a totally inclusive organisation and in these changing times we are extremely disappointed that a member of the audience should take such an unenlightened view."