March of the Awakened Warriors: Craziest trigger warning yet… London play on Hollywood’s Groucho Marx ‘contains a cigar prop’

  • East London’s Arcola Theater sends out trigger warnings for Groucho Marx’s play
  • Dinner With Groucho imagines a meeting between Marx and the writer TS Eliot
  • Ticket holders said: “Content Warning: Contains mist and cigar prop use”

With his bushy mustache and ubiquitous cigar, Groucho Marx is one of the most recognizable stars in Hollywood history.

Yet in what might be the most ridiculous and pointless content warning yet, audiences for a new stage show about the wise comedic actor are warned that it features a “cigar prop.”

The Arcola Theater in Dalston, east London, is issuing a warning to anyone buying tickets for Dinner With Groucho, a play which imagines a meeting between Brother Marx and American writer TS Eliot.

The disclaimer reads, “We look forward to welcoming you to Dinner with Groucho… Content Disclaimer: Contains use of haze and cigar prop.” A similar notice is posted on the auditorium door.

BEYOND A PLEASURE: Groucho with his trademark cigar, which is now subject to a warning notice

A spokeswoman for Arcola (pictured) said her warning was in line with official advice

A spokeswoman for Arcola (pictured) said her warning was in line with official advice

Steve Bennett, editor of comedy website Chortle, said: “Groucho’s cigar defined his enduring image as much as his grease-painted mustache, quirky eyebrows and wise puns. So of course a piece about comic genius was going to feature a cigar.

‘And then? A warning that a Tommy Cooper tribute act may contain fez? Or that a Ken Dodd impersonation may contain harrowing tickling scenes?

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes added: “I just don’t understand the fashion of infantilizing an audience, treating them like they’re three years old.”

And Maureen Lipman said: “Groucho Marx without a cigar is like a footballer without a tattoo – and it should be a lit cigar.” Are we going to stage Look Back In Anger with a gaslighting alert? Where do these warnings end?

An audience member who attended the show last week reported that several prop cigars are used in the performance – but are not actually lit.

Dinner With Groucho, which was written by Irish playwright Frank McGuinness, was inspired by the real-life friendship between Marx and Eliot.

The <a class=Marx Brothers, sons of German immigrants in New York. From left to right: Leonard or Chico, Herbert or Zeppo, Julius Henry or Groucho and Adolf or Harpo” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

The Marx Brothers, sons of German immigrants in New York. From left to right: Leonard or Chico, Herbert or Zeppo, Julius Henry or Groucho and Adolf or Harpo

In 1961 they began a correspondence when the poet Eliot sent a fan letter to Marx requesting a signed photograph. They finally met at a dinner party three years later.

The new play, which stars Coronation Street actor Ian Bartholomew as Groucho, imagines that encounter.

A spokeswoman for Arcola said its warning was in line with official advice.

She said: ‘The Government Health and Safety Officer recommends that entertainment venues using smoke or haze in productions print warnings on or with tickets and post notices of on-site warning. This is common practice in London.

Advertising