It is the absolute blight of the modern theatre: the flashing lights and relentless ringing of a mobile phone piercing the stalls.
But critics should not be too hasty to blame the younger generation, one actor has warned, as he claims the culprits are in fact the middle-aged.
Andrew Scott, star of BBC Sherlock and Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre, has said young fans are unfairly blamed for disrupting the theatre, being written off as “savages” without evidence.
In fact, he argued, ringing mobile telephones invariable belong to their technophobic elders, who ignore them or struggle to switch them off as actors watch on helplessly from the stage.
Scott is one of a cohort of television stars luring young fans into the theatre, with those who have admired his work as Moriarty in Sherlock stretching their cultural tastes to Shakespeare.
His colleague Benedict Cumberbatch did similarly at the Barbican, while Kit Harington transferred some of the buzz from Game of Thrones to the West End last year.
Scott has now said a special week of performances for the under 25s enjoyed an “amazing” atmosphere, making them the best shows in the entire season.
“The energy! The quality of the laughter! The enthusiasm!” he told the Observer. “They were the five best performances we've done in the whole run."
He added there is "a lot of bulls--- spoken about young people: that they're apathetic or whatever and that's not how it is. They're incredibly passionate."
Referring to fears that Sherlock or Spectre fans would be coming to the theatre to take pictures of him on their mobile phones, he said: "You know, I'm asked, are they going to act like savages?
“Because if they're fans of Sherlock or something like James Bond, [people assume] they're not possessed of the qualities necessary to spend hours in the theatre without Snapchatting.
"In my experience, if a phone's ringing, it's someone in late middle age who doesn't know how to turn it off and they think 'who'll be ringing me anyway?' and they let it ring out .
“Young people know how to turn their phone off."
His comments follow several years of high-profile campaigning about mobile phones ruining the theatre experience.
It helps pivot debate towards mastery of phone, opposed to false lazy assumption of yoof vs "etiquette". FOH & Actors witness daily reality. https://t.co/kX3a25bmt7— Cumberphone Campaign (@cumberphone) April 30, 2017
The Cumberphone Campaign, a social media movement named for Benedict Cumberbatch’s plea to theatregoers, said Scott’s comments were "spot on", helping to "pivot debate towards mastery of phone, [as] opposed to false lazy assumption of yoof vs ‘etiquette’.”
In 2015, Cumberbatch issued a personal plea at the Barbican stage door, insisting phone use was becoming “blindingly obvious”.
“I can see cameras, I can see red lights in the auditorium,” he said.
Last year, Richard Jordan, an award-winning theatre producer, described “possibly the worst West End audience I have ever encountered” after seeing Kit Harington from Game of Thrones in Doctor Faustus.
“What amazed me most was this audience, many of them Game of Thrones fans, could see nothing wrong in talking, eating and taking pictures throughout the show - or complaining when asked to stop,” he said.
Several A-list actors have previously made a habit of shaming noisy mobile phone owners from the stage.
The British actor Richard Griffiths ordered a woman to leave the theatre or switch her phone off when it it started ringing during a West End performance in 2005.
The following year, he threatened to leave the stage when phone ringing three times interrupted a performance of the History Boys on Broadway.
In 2009, Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman both confronted members of the audience on Broadway during A Steady Rain.
After being interrupted by a persistent ringtone, Jackman said: “You want to get that? You want to get it? Grab it. I don’t care.”
As a second phone went off, co-star Craig added: “Just get the phone.”
In 2013, Diana Quick improvised a cutting retort during The American Plan at the St James Theatre in London, staying in character to tell a phone owner: “That’s an awful habit.”