Baffled and bored… theatre fans walk out of Sheridan Smith's Opening Night musical BEFORE the break SuperNayr

It has been billed as her big comeback, inspiring critics to hail Sheridan Smith’s soul-baring performance as ‘sensational’.

But scores of theatregoers have been streaming out of her new West End musical nearly every evening since its March 6 debut, complaining of being ‘baffled’ and ‘bored’ by the bewildering plot.

Reporters who attended Opening Night at the Gielgud Theatre saw at least 50 audience members leave during the interval on two separate evenings last week. Staff at the theatre confirmed it was a regular occurrence.

And while some critics have praised the avant-garde show as ‘extraordinary’, dozens of nonplussed ticketholders have been voting with their feet and walking out midway through – or even before the interval.

Among those heading for an early exit last week was Helen, 59, an admin worker for the NHS, who went with a friend. 

Sheridan Smith's new West End musical has seen people leaving early every evening since its March 6 debut, complaining of being 'baffled' and 'bored' by the bewildering plot

Sheridan Smith’s new West End musical has seen people leaving early every evening since its March 6 debut, complaining of being ‘baffled’ and ‘bored’ by the bewildering plot

Robbie, 22, (pictured) who went with his friend Yan, 26, added: 'The video screen and the acting on stage did not match up at all. It was like watching a bad movie'

Robbie, 22, (pictured) who went with his friend Yan, 26, added: ‘The video screen and the acting on stage did not match up at all. It was like watching a bad movie’

Another leaving early was Annie McCabe, 64, (pictured) who went to the show with her husband. 'It was too wacky for me,' she said

Another leaving early was Annie McCabe, 64, (pictured) who went to the show with her husband. ‘It was too wacky for me,’ she said

She said: ‘I didn’t have a clue what was going on. It’s not Sheridan – she’s a great actress – but I was falling asleep.’ Regular theatregoers Jeremy, 50, and wife Sally, 54, also left during the interval. 

He said: ‘We didn’t understand what was going on in the first half. The story line was weak and indulgent.’

Another leaving early was Annie McCabe, 64, who went to the show with her husband. ‘It was too wacky for me,’ she said. ‘I loved Sheridan Smith but I didn’t know where it was going and it was all very disjointed and chaotic.’

Robbie, 22, who went with his friend Yan, 26, added: ‘The video screen and the acting on stage did not match up at all. It was like watching a bad movie.’

And Steph, 27, who watched it with a friend and left within the first hour, said: ‘It was boring. The music was terrible. It was a zero out of ten for me.’

Based on John Cassavetes’s 1977 arthouse film Opening Night, the new musical – written by Rufus Wainwright and directed by Ivo van Hove – follows the life of alcoholic actress Myrtle Gordon, played by Ms Smith.

Robbie, 22, who went with his friend Yan, 26, (pictured) added: 'The video screen and the acting on stage did not match up at all. It was like watching a bad movie'

Robbie, 22, who went with his friend Yan, 26, (pictured) added: ‘The video screen and the acting on stage did not match up at all. It was like watching a bad movie’

Steph, 27, (pictured) who watched it with a friend and left within the first hour, said: 'It was boring. The music was terrible. It was a zero out of ten for me'

Steph, 27, (pictured) who watched it with a friend and left within the first hour, said: ‘It was boring. The music was terrible. It was a zero out of ten for me’

Reporters who attended Opening Night at the Gielgud Theatre (pictured) saw at least 50 audience members leave during the interval on two separate evenings last week

Reporters who attended Opening Night at the Gielgud Theatre (pictured) saw at least 50 audience members leave during the interval on two separate evenings last week

Myrtle’s behaviour spirals out of control after the death of her young fan Nancy, played by Unorthodox actress Shira Haas, and Myrtle battles her inner demons while rehearsing for the debut of her new Broadway show.

The performance of Ms Smith, who has been vocal about her own battles with depression, anxiety and addiction, has resulted in rave reviews for the actress.

In one of the final scenes, filmed and relayed to the audience inside, Ms Smith exits the theatre via the rear stage door and drunkenly crawls along the streets of Soho.

But inside the theatre, it was clear that several seats had been vacated long before the final curtain fell. At one point during the production, a live image of the theatre’s audience was displayed on an enormous projector screen over the stage, revealing rows of abandoned seats.

One theatre steward, who declined to be named, said: ‘I had to show two women out halfway through the second half because they said they needed the toilet – but they didn’t come back. It’s definitely a unique play.’

The Gielgud Theatre, Sheridan Smith, and songwriter Rufus Wainwright were all contacted for comment.

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