Sir Ian McKellen has branded trigger warnings on his new play about two lonely old men “ludicrous”.

‘The Lord of the Rings’ actor, 84, is starring alongside his long-time friend Roger Allam, 60, in a production of ‘Frank and Percy’ at The Other Palace, London, until early December and has rubbished an alert notice on it for destroying some of its surprises.

He told Sky News: “Outside theatres and in the lobbies, including this one, the audience is warned: ‘There is a loud noise and at one point, there are flashing lights’, ‘there is reference to smoking’, ‘there is reference to bereavement’.

“I think it’s ludicrous, myself, yes, absolutely. I like to be surprised by loud noises and outrageous behaviour on stage.”

Directed by Sean Mathias, 67, and written by Ben Weatherill, the play features Sir Ian as Percy, a lonely gay sociology professor who finds comfort in a newfound friendship with equally lonesome Frank, a teacher played by Roger, who is mourning his late wife.

Other trigger warnings listed for the play on The Other Palace’s website are include alerts about strong language, sexual references and discussions of bereavement and cancer.

The age recommendation is given as suitable for audience members over 14 years old.

In February, Sir Ian questioned the need for intimacy directors in the theatre, saying that in his day such production elements would have “taken care of themselves”.

He told writer Simon Armitage, 60, on ‘The Poet Laureate has Gone to His Shed’ podcast about changes in theatre since he started working on stage: “The latest is the intimacy co-ordinator. This isn’t yet mandatory, but I can imagine there are situations when you have to be careful and people find it difficult to be intimate, and therefore a co-ordinator is just the thing.

“But why can’t it be the director who does that? Why has it got to be somebody who’s been trained in how to do it?”