Soho Theatre bans Paul Currie over antisemitic outburst | 'Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages'

Soho Theatre bans Paul Currie over antisemitic outburst

'Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages'

Soho Theatre has banned Paul Currie after Jewish audience members accused him of driving them out of his show there, inciting antisemitic chants against them.

The comic is also facing possible police action after he reportedly led chants of ‘get out’ and ‘free Palestine’ directed at one Israeli man in the audience, who said he feared for his safety.

The London venue got in touch with every ticket holder at the show to determine what happened and tonight issued a fresh statement about the incident.

They said: ‘Soho Theatre will not tolerate intimidation of audience members due to their nationality, race, religion or beliefs.

‘On Saturday evening, following the end of Paul Currie’s show Shtoom, Jewish members of the audience were subjected to verbal abuse and the performer aggressively demanding they leave the theatre.

‘Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages, now or ever. We will not be inviting Paul Currie back to perform at our venue. 

‘Whilst we robustly support the right of artists to express a wide range of views in their shows, intimidation of audience members, acts of antisemitism or any other forms of racism will not be tolerated at Soho Theatre. 

‘We are continuing our investigation, discussing the incident with that evening’s audience and consulting with the police. We are working with the Campaign Against Antisemitism to meet with members of the audience who were affected. We are taking professional advice to safeguard the much-valued inclusivity of Soho Theatre.’

Currie’s performances at the Leicester Comedy Festival next week have also been cancelled, although he is currently slated to appear at the Glasgow Comedy Festival in March.

As first reported by Chortle, the ruckus started after Currie produced the Palestinian flag during his show, Shtoom, as part of a call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

However, things came to a head when the comic orchestrated his own standing ovation at the end Currie spotted one man who remained in his seat and asked him  why he didn’t stand, saying: ‘Didn’t you enjoy my show?’

The punter – subsequently identified by MailOnline as 33-year-old software engineer Liahav Eitan – replied: ‘I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian flag.’

It provoked Currie to order him out of the theatre. According a complaint being circulated online, this ‘escalated into screaming at this young man, [with Currie] repeatedly shouting "Leave my fucking show, Now!" "Get out now"’ – causing him and other audience members to leave the show.

However, Eitan - who moved to London from Israel five years ago - said he was scared the room  ‘might turn against us’.

He told MailOnline that after he told Currie he objected to the Palestinian flag, the comic ‘starts screaming, "I’m from Belfast. I know everything about ceasefires. Ceasefire now, get the fuck out of my theatre. Get out, get the fuck out of my show, motherfuckers’."

Eitan said that as he and his friend crossed the stage to leave Soho Theatre’s downstairs theatre,  Currie had started chants of ‘ceasefire now’ and ‘free Palestine’, adding: ‘We had to actually get on the stage quite close to him — and I was quite afraid that he’d throw a punch because he was still cursing and shouting. 

‘He got out his Palestine flag again and shouted "motherfucker you'll have to watch it again on your way out.’

He added: ‘[We were] mostly scared about how that room might turn against us’ and said  Currie should be reprimanded for his 'unreasonable and unprofessional behaviour'.

Other people who left in disgust said yesterday: ‘What had been intended to be an evening of comedy turned out to be what felt like an antisemitic rally.’

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has taken up the case and says it is considering legal avenues.

A spokesperson said: 'What the Jewish audience members have recounted is atrocious, and we are working with them and our lawyers to ensure that those who instigated and enabled it are held to account.

'These allegations are of deeply disturbing discriminatory abuse against Jews. Comedians are rightly given broad latitude, but hounding Jews out of theatres is reminiscent of humanity’s darkest days, and must have no place in Central London in 2024.'

The Metropolitan Police are also looking into the incident after receiving a complaint, saying: ‘We are aware of the incident and understand why it was upsetting for those involved.’

However, some audience members came out in his defence.

Chortle has approached Currie for comment, but he has not responded.

After the gig he took to Instagram to post a quote from Mexican poet Cesar A. Cruz saying: ’Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable’ and added: ‘If you were at my show last night… you’ll know’.

He has also posted footage of himself on a pro-Palestine march and yesterday added more calls for a ceasefire, while accusing Israel of a genocide in Gaza as it continues its onslaught in response to the October 7 atrocities committed by Hamas. He has since locked the account since the antisemitism storm blew up.

Soho Theatre was formerly the West End Great Synagogue and still displays a mizrach – the plaque traditionally placed on the east wall of a Jewish building – commemorating that history.

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Published: 13 Feb 2024

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