A MUM has blasted theatre staff for blocking her daughter who has learning difficulties from taking her seat and ruining her 18th birthday present.
Lucy McKee has been affected by Sotos syndrome since birth, a genetic condition which brings with it a range of medical issues, and causes mild learning disability.
The teenager had been eagerly anticipating her trip to Edinburgh Playhouse to see Wicked to mark her special milestone.
However her hopes of a magical night at the theatre were soon dashed when a member of staff stopped Lucy from following her friend, who also has a learning disability, into their seats just as the show was getting under way.
As a result, Lucy was stood at the side of the stalls alone for the whole of the first half of the performance despite having tickets costing a total of £250.
Mum, Barbara McKee, 56, has been left furious by the way her daughter was treated at Saturday’s evening performance.
The specialist nurse said: “I don’t understand why her friend could get to her seat and yet Lucy was told she couldn’t. It’s absolutely ludicrous. The performance was about to start and Lucy would not have the confidence to challenge the member of staff.
“I’m furious about all of this. I can’t believe my daughter had to stand for the whole first half. Her levels of anxiety must have been enormous.”
Lucy’s school years included being a victim of bullying and exclusion. At the age of 14 she joined Enable Scotland – a charity working for an equal society for every person who has a learning disability.
She has played a big role within the charity, taking part in a national anti-bullying campaign and is also the chairwoman of the Active Community of Empowered People group.
Lucy was able to take her seat for the second half of the show, but Barbara said the damage had already been done with her experience ruined.
She added: “Over the years we have tried to help Lucy experience a normal life. That has been totally destroyed in one evening.
“I’m disgusted. Whatever the theatre does, I think it’s important for people to know how they treat their customers.
“A total of £250 is a lot of money for us to pay for Lucy to be stood for half of it. I don’t understand why no attempts were made to reseat them. She was completely ignored. Lucy would not want to make a fuss but she did feel awful because of it. She did say the performance was excellent but it was completely spoilt by the way she was treated. It was vindictive and uncaring and the staff clearly need training.”
Edinburgh Playhouse confirmed an 18-minute latecomer policy was in place for all Wicked performances.
A spokesperson said: “Unfortunately we were not aware of this situation having occurred during Saturday evening’s performance but we now understand that Lucy didn’t receive the experience that we strive to offer. We apologise for that and we have now been in touch to invite her back to the Playhouse.”
The venue has also offered the family free tickets but Barbara is unsure whether the Glasgow Clyde College pupil would want to return.
She said: “Looking at Lucy you would not tell she has a learning disability, but everyone has their own story and it’s ridiculous that there has been no customer care at all in this situation. When you go to the theatre it’s supposed to be a magical experience. After the outrageous behaviour by Playhouse staff we do not know if we will go back. Their response doesn’t make the grade for me after causing such devastation to Lucy’s confidence.”