Well, for those of you who aren’t Doctor Who fans turn off now.. for those of you who are, you’ll be sad to hear that the London run of the RSC’s Hamlet, starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart sold out in a few hours earlier today.
Having been one of the many thousands who beseiged the Novello’s ticket site earlier today, I can only say it was one of the more stressful moments in my life. The site was constantly up and down, in the same way that the phone line was constantly engaged. In fact, even when we somehow managed to, apparently, book tickets the site refused to confirm the purchase! How stressful is that? Well it turns out a lot less stressful now after the box office confirmed that my payment had gone through – yay!
Of course now I have to find out how many times I paid for those tickets, as without a confirmation page and unable to get back through again I tried repeatedly to ‘Confirm and Purchase’ to no avail. Fingers crossed the ticket server was sensible enough to work out that the tickets had already been sold and not charge again, but given how badly it dealt with the whole thing then nothing much would surprise me. In all fairness this was extreme demand, but surely it was expected? Still, it could be worse – Ticketbastard could have taken even more of my money along with other people’s as they sell tickets for a thousand quid markup on their ‘fan to fan’ touting site with their ‘service fee’. Why hasn’t this travesty been shut down yet?
Personally for popular, limited events such as this I believe London’s theatres should start to follow a Glastonbury style of ticketing to prevent the amazing levels of touting. Named tickets, that can only be used by the people whose names are on the ticket and present valid ID. Can’t make the show after all? Then return your ticket for a full refund, allowing real fans to get last minute tickets at the face value rather than 10x, and you get a priority place in line for returns on another day – for example if you happen to be ill. Admittedly this is a lot more work for the ticketing facilities, but if people are dedicated to getting rid of touts and helping the fans then what other options are there? Or the other option is to follow a Madonna-esque model of pricing, with an auction being held for the better tickets ensuring that all the money goes to the RSC rather than anyone else. Then with the extra cash they can run more cheaper tickets to help expand the audience of Shakespeare to those less able to afford it – which was part of their goal of casting David Tennant in the first place.
As for me, I can’t wait for my yearly dose of ‘Sci Fi Shakespeare’. Last year it was Patrick Stewart as MacBeth and the show was wonderful. This year – it’s Whovians and Trekkies in the audience as two great British actors tread the boards in one of the world’s most famous plays. Allons y and make it so! Sorry, my geek side kicked in.. resistance was futile. Coff.