WATCH: The secret behind audience member 'accidentally set on fire' at Ipswich theatre
PUBLISHED: 05:30 29 September 2019
@ Mike Kwasniak Photography
Theatre-goers in Ipswich have been voicing their concern after an audience member was seemingly set on fire during the performance of One Man, Two Guvnors - but now the secret is out.
At every show - with the last being staged at the New Wolsey on Saturday night - a female member of the audience, Christine Patterson, is pulled up to join in at the end of the first act.
She ends up under a table where she is accidentally 'set on fire' before leaving the stage screaming having been dowsed by a fire extinguisher. It has prompted many emails to the theatre checking on her welfare.
Now the secret is out. The audience member was actress Sophie Delin, and her role is so secret she is not even listed among the cast in the programme.
To keep down suspicion, each night Sophie goes to the box office to buy a ticket and buys a drink on her way in to take her seat on the front row.
She said: "I come in and buy my ticket and I buy some Skittles. It keeps me going as I've seen the show about 30 times.
"I am usually sat in A7 and then I just watch the show like everyone else.
"You want the audience to love the show. Obviously I know how funny it is but it is quite magical hearing a room full of people laugh."
Even her outfit was specifically chosen to help make the scene feel natural and awkward when she has to crawl under a table.
"It's that real thing of I am trying to pull my dress down a bit," she said.
"They wanted it to look like it wasn't easy for me to go on stage and go under the table.
"You can see people in the audience going 'oh she is dressed really nicely, that's not fair'."
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While she is under the table a fire breaks out and her character then comes out from large amounts of smoke with her hair apparently on fire.
But rather than any injury being caused to the actress, it is in fact her that sets off the smoke beneath the stage.
"It's the magic of it just going wrong," she said. "I just try and keep it realistic."
Having been dowsed by the fire extinguisher Ms Delin runs off stage and heads for a shower and some dinner before returning to the stage as a police officer.
The dramatic scene has had some theatre goers so concerned that they have emailed in after the performance to ask how she is.
"They told me the first couple of times but now they have had so many emails they don't tell me," said Ms Delin.
"I remember seeing the show in the West End, seeing the actress and thinking oh that's sad and going home.
"My mum came here to watch the show and was cackling because she knew I was alright."
Ms Delin gets no credit at all in the show's programme in order to keep the character appearing as real as possible but this doesn't bother her.
"As long as my mum knows I am in it, that's fine," she said.
Reception to the play has been excellent, according to the production's director Peter Rowe.
"It's been great," he said, "We have had people coming back to see it more than once.
"It's going down a treat. Some people are leaving practically incapable because they have been laughing so much."