Theatre group brand Dumbarton Denny Civic ‘a building site’ as they cancel show

By Lucy Ashton

Dumbarton People’s Theatre were due to perform at the Denny Civic Theatre in the town centre this week, but have been forced to call off their show because West Dunbartonshire Council couldn’t get the premises ready on time.

The hugely popular group said the theatre was “like a building site” following the installation of new sound  equipment and electrical work.

The  theatre, which has over many years hosted events from local theatre groups, Christmas pantomimes, dance shows, political meetings and live music performances, was scheduled to reopen this week.

Dumbarton People’s Theatre (DPT) The Memory of Water on December 2 and 3  would have been the first show to go on in the theatre since lockdown following Covid restrictions and renovation works to upgrade sound, lighting and audience seating and toilet facilities.

However, the production was cancelled after representatives of the DPT visited last week and judged the theatre not to be in a fit state to put on the show.

From the archives – the cast of a DPT show which did go ahead at the Denny Civic Theatre.

Volunteer Janette Barnes, a veteran performer with the DPT, told one journalist: “The foyer resembled a building site – full of building materials, ceiling tiles down, and the bar area fenced off.

“The passage between the theatre and the foyer had the carpet removed and the floor covered by a protective material. The toilets were undergoing repair and were unusable.

“There were no theatre lights – backstage or onstage – and the backstage area where the scenery would be stored was full of more building materials.”

“We spent a lot of money on the performance, from tickets and programmes to adverts. It cost us money like every performance, only this time we won’t make that back because we have to offer refunds.

“We rent it from the Leisure Trust, and I find it crazy that they felt that the theatre was suitable.

“They let us go along with no one there to meet us to apologise for the mess. We have waited so long for it to open, only for it to disappoint us.

“The last time I was there was in September, and the workers told us it would be ready come time for our show. We have had no explanation in writing from the Leisure Trust.

“It was supposed to be a nice, family night at Christmas. But we cannot take people into a theatre that isn’t fit for purpose. We have a responsibility to the public.

“They must’ve known how bad it was, and for no one to be there when we arrived to tell us and apologise is not right.  We are due back next year, and hopefully, we will be back by then.”

They told the Lennox Herald that the second phase of works to install new toilets has been impacted by supply chain delays, and this, along with redecoration, will be undertaken in January and February.

In the interim, visitors can access the Concord toilets, which are accessible from the foyer of the theatre.

A spokesperson for West Dunbartonshire Council also told the Lennox Herald: “We’re sorry to hear DPT has made the decision to cancel their show.

“We’ve worked really hard to get the theatre ready for the first audiences next week, and the new AV equipment to enhance the lighting and sound experience within the auditorium is operational.

“Unfortunately, when the group arrived to load in equipment to the theatre on Tuesday evening, there were materials in the foyer area which were being moved yesterday in advance of the group’s rehearsals.

“We explained this to the group when they called yesterday afternoon and offered to meet on-site to provide further reassurance, but they advised they wished to cancel next week’s shows.”

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