James Corden sparks debate after delaying play to watch England penalty shootout

James Corden sparks debate after delaying play to watch England penalty shootout
James Corden delays performance to watch England penalty shootout on stage
PA, Carla Feltham

James Corden has left social media torn over whether he was right to delay a performance of the play The Constituent at London’s Old Vic Theatre (in which he stars alongside Line of Duty actor Anna Maxwell Martin and An Enemy of the People star Zachary Hart) in order to watch England take on Switzerland in Saturday’s penalty shootout in Euro 2024.

The actor and comedian – of Gavin and Stacey and The Late Late Show fame – plays Alec in Joe Penhall’s play, about an ex-serviceman’s interactions with his local MP Monica (Maxwell Martin), with Hart playing parliamentary protection officer Mellor.

While news of Corden being cast in the production was met with some ridicule earlier this year, his performance has since been praised by audiences and critics alike, with The Independent’s Tim Bano writing that Corden “really is a great stage actor”.

Trent Alexander-Arnold scored England’s fifth consecutive penalty at around 7:41pm on Saturday, which would have been 11 minutes into the evening performance of The Constituent.

In videos captured of Corden on stage, the actor can be seen resting a phone on the desk on stage, watching the action alongside Hart.

Corden tells the audience they’ll watch the penalties and “then a very serious, intense, political play”.

“Trent’s up. Come on Trent,” he added, as Alexander-Arnold stepped up to take the fifth shot.

He was also filmed placing his arm around an audience member as they watched the footballer score the penalty before Corden rose to his feet in celebration.

He then handed the audience member his phone back, before leaving the stage to begin the play.

However, such a move has divided theatre fans online, with some praising the “class” moment of actors and audience coming together and arguing it would have been better than audience members trying to discreetly check their phones:

Others, though, have criticised the decision as “unprofessional”:

With no interval, the 90-minute show typically begins from 7:30pm, wrapping up at around 9pm.

Sharing a video of the moment on his Instagram Stories, Hart wrote: “Come on @TrentArnold66.”

England will now play the Netherlands in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

The Old Vic has been approached by indy100 for comment.

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