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Festival’s regret over ‘offensive’ performer
Published 16/07/12

ORGANISERS of the Henley Festival say they “regret” any offence caused by musical comedian Tim Minchin.

The Australian-British performer, who appeared on the “floating” stage with Alfie Boe on Friday night, upset some members of the audience with his language and jokes.

He poked fun at “boat people” and compared the death of Jesus with a zombie horror film. The Standard received a number of complaints and letters about the act.

Pauline Wood, of Icknield Road, Goring, said Minchin’s show was not suitable for a mixed-age audience.

“It was disgusting and offensive and I have yet to meet someone who found it otherwise,” she said.

“I can’t understand why this act was not presented in the club room after the main concert because members of the audience can leave if they do not like it but under the circumstances if we wished to see the rest of the concert we had to remain.”

Sue Taylor, from Harpsden, called Minchin’s performance “crude, blasphemous ‘entertainment’.” She said: “Whether or not the intention was to shock most of the audience, which he obviously did, it was unbelievably bad. Is this the future of the Henley Festival? If so, I for one am cancelling my Friend subscription.”

Stewart Collins, the festival’s artistic director, acknowledged there had been some negative reaction to the concert, as well as “some hugely positive comment”.

He said: “We hate disappointing — and certainly giving offence — but there is only so much that can be done on the day. While a general discussion is had with artists about repertoire, it isn’t possible to micro-manage on the day and programmes can and do change from that which is expected and requested.”

He said Minchin “gave us more than we had anticipated” but added: “We would stress our regret where offence was taken.”

Mr Collins said that overall he was “massively content” with this year’s festival, which recorded record ticket sales.

Published 16/07/12

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