Yet more Box Office poison

Friday 21 December 2007

The latest in our ongoing series of general whinging vis a vis shoddy box office (BO) experiences.

And for once it isn’t just the Whingers complaining.

The Old Vic

Andrew had a minor BO problem too this week.

  • Old Vic! How can I help you?
  • I’d like some tickets for Speed-the-Plow, please.
  • Certainly. I’ve got some excellent seats in the centre of rows P and Q of the stalls..
  • Ummm. OK. Have you got anything nearer the front?
  • Or I can put you all together in Row D of the stalls.

Does the Old Vic really think that row P and Q are better seats than row D (which, confusingly, seems actually to be the second row)? Theatre Monkey says they are all much of a muchness but, to be frank, Andrew’s eyesight is fading and he would need binoculars from row P. And Phil would need his very largest (i.e. tuba-sized) ear-trumpet which would play havoc with the sightlines of the seats behind. That combined with his millinery.

Why can’t they be more like the Clapham Picture House? When you phone them for tickets they ask if you prefer to sit near the front, middle or back. To be fair, this is principally for their own entertainment as whatever you say is promptly followed by “Mmmmm. Nothing there, I’m afraid.”

Finborough Theatre / Ticket Web

A rather more offensive BO problem regarding an abortive attempt to secure 10 (count ’em!)tickets for Mr De Jongh’s Plague Over England. This is part of the Whingers’ new get-rich-quick scheme following the Othello madness which saw tickets changing hands on the black market for silly money.

The Finborough’s website assures you that “Booking Online is quickest, cheapest and easiest! There are no booking fees.” OK then.
But try and book 10 tickets online and it tells you that “Group Bookings can only be made by phone. 1 ticket free in every 10.”

Hmmm. Well, OK, then. 1 ticket free in every 10 can’t be bad. So Andrew plucks up courage to actually speak with a real person (he is more at home in cyberspace) and he dares to dial:

  • “I’d like to book 10 tickets for Mr De Jongh’s Plague Over England, please”
  • “Oh, I don’t know if we can do that”
  • “But it says on the website 1 ticket free in every 10”
  • “We haven’t been authorised to do that”
  • “But it says on the website so it must be true.”
  • “I’ll have to get back you. I’ll call you back later today or first thing tomorrow at the latest.”

That was a fortnight ago. No news yet.

Trafalgar Studios

This week even Guardian theatre critic Lyn Gardner was drawn into whinging about ranting about sharing her BO problems on the Guardian blog this week which we trust she won’t mind reproducing in full:

I had a telling little run in with Trafalgar Studios on Tuesday when I went to the press night of Dealer’s Choice (which is very good and well worth seeing, but make sure you sit near the front).

Intending to buy some tickets for a future date for my family, I turned up half an hour early, but when I attempted to buy the tickets I was told I couldn’t because it was “inappropriate”. Inappropriate! How can it be inappropriate for a box office to sell tickets, selling tickets is surely what its function is? If an apparently open box office doesn’t sell tickets what possible purpose can it have?

Well, it seems that it is not there to sell tickets on press nights at Trafalgar Studios, where it appears that it requires six people to stand around to give two tickets to David Hare. (The press desk was separate so they weren’t having to deal with us hacks).

I was told–in no uncertain terms– to go away and book by phone the following day, even though this would mean incurring a booking fee. Clearly the box office manager, Martin Crosier, just can’t be bothered to sell tickets to paying customers when he can hand out tickets to celebs.

If I was a producer of Dealer’s Choice I’d be pretty upset that potential paying customers were being turned away. In the programme, the theatre manager, Adam Knight, writes: “If I, or any or my team can do anything further to accommodate your needs, please do not hestiate to ask any member of staff, whom I know will do all they can to help.”

But apparently this helpfulness doesn’t extend to actually selling you a ticket.

So this is what we want you to do:

We want you to get up now. We want all of you to get up out of your chairs. We want you to get up right now and go to the little window in the box office, open it, and stick your head in, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

It might help.

6 Responses to “Yet more Box Office poison”

  1. Simon Treves Says:

    Years ago, I worked in a box office. I’m revealing no secrets when I say I knew I should get out of the job when I started to HUGELY ENJOY pissing punters off. I would sit in front of a completely empty seating plan (this was the Shaw Theatre in the mid-70s: hardly any show sold) and when some innocent foolish theatregoer approached I’d pretend to search for seats. Then I’d delight in saying things like: ‘I might be able to squeeze you into row ZZZ, extreme left…’ The real difficulty was being unable to find seats with impeded sightlines (a favourite wheeze of box office staff for millennia) because the Shaw had v good sightlines, darn it.

  2. sal Says:

    apparently if you book via the chocolate factory for dealers choice, you get a discount – haven’t tried myself, but was told by the director of the play. Might be worth a try.

  3. webcowgirl Says:

    Speed the Plow? When? Maybe I can come with!


  4. Hi guys – So sorry you had problems with the group booking line (run by Ticketweb, not by us – it must be said). I’ve yelled at them this morning! In the meantime, give me a call on 07977 173135 and I’ll sort you out personally. Neil, Finborough Theatre

  5. Sean Says:

    Bloody Trafalgar Studios is a hell hole, one of the most uncomfortable theatres (no leg room in most seats, the small space is ok though), but I must defend the box office as human beings. I left my credit card on the counter, and they did two announcements asking me to collect it, and were delightful and chatty when I did (it was an otherwise stressful night for some reason that I can’t remember; I have never left my card anywhere every before or since).

    On the Finborough; wonderful theatre, wonderful people!

    I don’t think one ‘joins’ Whingers trips, one should be ‘invited’.

  6. Alan Says:

    I once had wonderful fun at South Hill Park in Bracknell. They absolutely refused to let me buy a ticket until I gave them a full address and postcode. Take note: this is two minutes before curtain up, I have cash in my hand, and there are five people behind me in the queue. London has no monopoly on idiocy.


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