Sussex's theatres have united in support for those affected by the ceiling collapse in the West End.

More than 700 people were in the Apollo Theatre, in London, 45 minutes into the National Theatre’s performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time when parts of the ceiling caved in.

The audience spoke of hearing a loud “creaking” which some thought was part of the show.

76 people were hurt when ornate plasterwork fell.

Although the cause of the accident has yet to be established, one line of inquiry will be the effect of adverse weather on the more than 100-year-old building.

Forecasters confirmed there was an abnormally high concentration of rain, hail and lightning strikes in London between 7pm and 9pm on Thursday.

With adverse weather due to hit Sussex over the Christmas period, the county’s theatres have reassured the public their buildings are up to scratch.

Amanda O’Reilly, Worthing Theatres’ general manager, said: “We are lucky that our venues are maintained through Worthing Borough Council’s Capital programme.

“We have regular surveys of the buildings, frequently update our evacuation procedures and have regular staff briefings to ensure everyone feels confident of their role in the event of an emergency.

“Our thoughts are with the audience members, cast, crew and staff of the Apollo at this difficult time.”

The Apollo is 112 years old, while Connaught Theatre in Union Place, Worthing, celebrates its 100th anniversary next year.

A spokesman for ATG, which represents Brighton Theatre Royal, said: “ATG is deeply saddened by last night’s tragic incident at Nimax’s Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.

“Our thoughts are with everyone that has been affected and wishes those that were injured a full and speedy recovery.

“All ATG theatres are properly licensed, have appropriate ceiling certificates, receive regular building inspections and have recently undergone full satisfactory condition and structural surveys.

“ATG continually makes significant investments in the maintenance, upkeep and improvement of its venues to ensure the safety and comfort of its audi- ences as a top priority.

“ATG’s ceiling contractors have begun additional ceiling and roof surveys in the company’s theatres.”