There is an interesting contrast with a similar incident from a year ago that I posted on here. In that case, someone sitting in the front row had their cellphone go off towards the end of the last movement of Mahler's 9th Symphony. It was so destructive of the mood that the conductor stopped the orchestra and confronted the offender. The whole audience was outraged. After ensuring that the incident would not be repeated, the conductor re-started the movement.
In order to really understand what happened in the theater incident, we need some more reports as I don't regard Mr. Williamson's account as being reliable. It is very hard for me to believe that the audience could have been this disruptive without the performers and management taking appropriate steps. An announcement from the stage at intermission that any audience member causing a disturbance in the second half would be immediately escorted from the theater would seem the thing to do.
What Mr. Williamson did, tempting though it may seem, is really beyond the pale. It could only result in either him being tossed out, or, if he is joined by other audience members, the whole audience engaged in a civil war. Neither option is preferable to the original disturbance. Suppression of this kind of rudeness must come from the performers and management. If you don't like it as an audience member, just leave and be sure to communicate exactly why you left to the management.
Grabbing someone's cellphone--no matter how obnoxious they are being--is simply assault and theft.
Or am I missing something? Are theater audiences this intolerable these days? I rarely go to the theater so I could simply be uninformed. Any readers have any stories to share?
Let me see, what would be an appropriate piece of music? How about this: