AN actor whose severely disabled son was asked to leave a performance by another audience member has praised the theatre for hosting a “relaxed” show for those with special needs.

Harry Boniface, 26, was attending a matinee performance of Into the Woods at The Swan Theatre, Worcester, in April last year, in which his dad Martin was appearing, before being pressured to leave.

Martin had been “incensed” when he found out a female audience member had continually turned around and told Harry and his support worker they were too distracting.

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

However, as reported previously, the amateur actor, 59, said it did not reflect the views of the theatre and was delighted chief executive Chris Jaeger decided to host the special show on January 2.

The theatre, in The Moors, held 62 performances of pantomime Maid Marian and the Merry Men, written by Mr Jaeger, but adapted the one-off show to be more inclusive for those with learning difficulties.

Martin, of Drakes Broughton, Pershore, said while he is a “great believer in inclusivity” he has mixed views on these “separate performances” usually.

“Part of my concern is around creating a ‘ghetto mentality’ where people with learning difficulties, autism or other challenging behaviour are separated out from other people,” he said.

However, on the other hand, he said they allow family and friends of people with special needs to feel more relaxed and “not on tenterhooks” worrying about their loved one making noise or moving around.

“It was far more relaxing sitting there knowing that no-one was going to comment on any noises etcetera made by Harry or members of the audience,” he said.

Martin, who accompanied his son with partner Sheila to the show, said Mr Jaeger had even consulted him on the changes needed to allow those was difficulties to enjoy the show.

These included not using pyrotechnics, not having actors running into the audience and having the main lights left on.

“All of that was really positive and every single person stayed right to the end,” he said.

The original article about Harry being told to leave the theatre was published in the Worcester News on May 2 last year and went on to cause a stir in the national press.

Martin said, of the original story: “There was a lot of interest, I think it really struck a cord with people. It came at the right time.

“It’s still an ongoing issue, the issue of inclusion for people with learning difficulties. But I hope it made people think.”