A canister of what was supposed to be water left the Penobscot Theatre audience in tears when it turned out to contain pepper spray.

Bari Newport, the producing artistic director, issued an apology to audience members for the mistake during Saturday night's performance of 'Ripcord.' It was during the second act when a canister that was labeled "water" was sprayed by one of the actors at another performer.

The same thing had been done in previous performances without a hitch but, on Saturday, went awry when the canister turned out to contain pepper spray. The spray dissipated out over the audience, causing plenty of coughing, tearing up, and reddened eyes.

Police and EMTs assured theater administration, according to Newport, that there are no lasting health consequences from exposure to the spray. Audience members from Saturday's performance have been offered free tickets to any other performance of 'Ripcord,' or credit toward tickets for a different performance.

In addition, Newport says, the use of the small canister of water/pepper spray has been discontinued. The canisters were purchased from a vendor and had come to the theater mislabeled.

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