Sir Ian McKellen has criticised the trigger warnings on his own play as “ludicrous” as he says he “prefers to be surprised”.
Directed by Sean Mathias and written by Ben Weatherill, the production follows the development of a relationship between two retired men who meet on Hampstead Heath.
Speaking to Sky News Sir Ian said: “Outside theatres and in the lobbies, including this one, the audience is warned ‘there is a loud noise and at one point, there are flashing lights’, ‘there is reference to smoking’, ‘there is reference to bereavement’.”
He added: “I think it’s ludicrous, myself, yes, absolutely.
“I like to be surprised by loud noises and outrageous behaviour on stage.”
Trigger warnings listed for the play on The Other Palace’s website are: Strong language, sexual references, and discussions of bereavement and cancer. The age recommendation is given as suitable for audience members over 14 years old.
This is not the first time the X-Men and Lord of the Rings actor has appeared to criticise aspects of contemporary theatre production.
In February, he questioned the need for intimacy directors in the theatre, saying that in his day such things would have “taken care of themselves”.
He told Simon Armitage on The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed podcast, theatre has seen many changes and “not always for the better”.
“The latest is the intimacy co-ordinator. This isn’t yet mandatory, but I can imagine there are situations when you have to be careful and people find it difficult to be intimate, and therefore a co-ordinator is just the thing”, he said.
“But why can’t it be the director who does that? Why has it got to be somebody who’s been trained in how to do it?”
Alongside his starry career in film and theatre over the last six decades, Sir Ian has also been vocal in championing LGBT+ causes as a co-founder of Stonewall UK.
In 2008 he was appointed Companion of Honour for his services to drama and to equality.
His extensive body of work ranges from Shakespeare to Hollywood blockbusters, as well as West End and Broadway performances.
Having worked professionally since 1961, he achieved worldwide recognition for roles such as Magneto in the X-Men films and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.