Another very fussing letter from the Donmar insisting that the Whingers decide NOW what they want to do in September. All very stressful.
One of the many privileges of being a priority member – or Backstage Crew – props as they insist on calling it in a misguided attempt to be cute – is that for an annual fee of £30 you periodically receive a ream of A4 paper in a C4 envelope containing a litany of instructions, mostly on what not to do to get tickets for forthcoming productions .
These are presented in a combination of VERY BIG CAPITALS (“IMPORTANT”), large, bold lettering (“Please read the following before you fill out your booking form to avoid disappointment and delays in processing“), italics (“Please fill in all your contact details, including your membership number“) and – in case all the shouting has inured you to the relative importance of the things – combinations thereof (“Please enclose a blank cheque… stating the upper limit on the back of the cheque“). No typographical opportunity for emphasis is overlooked.
It’s bad enough that it’s more complicated to complete than a tax return, but on top of that the whole thing is printed in a red vibrant enough to give you a headache within five minutes (i.e. about one-twelfth of the time it takes to fill it in).
And it’s just dripping with resentment. There are labyrinthine exclusions based on your inadequate status (“Not that night! It’s our press night; you may be paying for priority booking but this is the night we give away free tickets to people from the newspapers”), insulting cavils reeking of reluctance to accommodate you (“Well, OK, you can come that night but you’ll have to sit upstairs; that’s our student night.”) and general Stalinist bureaucracy (Don’t send your form in earlier than the 19th March because we won’t open it. So there”). We’re paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
Oh, and even though it’s priority booking, there are spaces for you to provide three alternative dates for each production you want to see. It all makes you yearn to join the hoi palloi and queue for your tickets.
Compare the whole experience with the National Theatre’s system where priority booking can be done online and you can choose your seats.
Now don’t get us wrong, we love the Donmar dearly, but Andrew is getting very stressed and although it makes for good whinging material this experience is only going to result in even heavier Prozac bills for the NHS. They really haven’t thought it through.
And do you know what’s funny? The Donmar’s principal sponsor is software solutions giant SAP. Surely they could rustle up some online booking for the Donmar; goodness knows what it’s doing for their brand.