David Lister: To dream, perchance to get a refund

Share
Related Topics

Alas poor Tennant. Emergency back surgery has meant that David Tennant has missed his opening performances as Hamlet for the London season, and, sadly, is unlikely to return for most, if not all, of the run.

But, alas poor ticket-buyers too. The critics were rightly praising understudy Ed Bennett's performance, but as someone who saw Tennant perform the role in Stratford-upon-Avon, I know that it was a tour de force, and that London audiences are missing out. It's always difficult for theatre companies to know what to do about refunds when a star drops out. Michael Boyd, head of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said that he would not be postponing the press night until Tennant returned as the RSC is an "ensemble company", and added that "the RSC and Delfont Mackintosh Theatres won't be issuing refunds because the Company has a fully rehearsed understudy policy and performances will continue as scheduled".

The first part of that statement is a breathtaking disregard of recent RSC history. It is only a matter of months since the press night of King Lear was postponed as Frances Barber playing Goneril had an injury. Most Shakespearean scholars will agree that Goneril is a slightly less important role than Hamlet.

But it is the second part of Michael Boyd's statement that concerns me more. In this production, perhaps more than any other anywhere in recent years, it was the prince rather than the play that was the thing. Tennant's appeal, especially to the young, because of his role as Doctor Who on TV, was a tremendous spur for ticket sales, which sold out within hours. It is, of course, possible that there are Shakespeare devotees who rubbed their hands and said: "Fantastic, the RSC is staging Hamlet. I must get on to eBay and get a ticket, whatever the cost."

But I suspect that it was not the ensemble company that spurred the stampede for tickets. And to judge from what some bitterly disappointed punters told the press this week, it was the lack of Tennant that they, particularly the younger theatregoers, found highly upsetting.

The views of these young theatregoers are particularly important because, let us remember, it was part of the RSC's strategy in casting Tennant to bring in a new, young audience to Shakespeare – a strategy that worked marvellously. It's not a fault of the RSC that Tennant is now unable to perform, but I can sympathise with theatregoers who feel a little cheated.

The RSC cannot have it both ways. It gained enormous publicity and kudos from the casting of David Tennant. It cannot simply choose to be an ensemble company when it suits. The RSC needs this new, young audience that it attracted via Tennant. The best way to lose them for good is to allow them to feel cheated. The best way to keep them on side is to do the morally correct thing. Assure them that they will still enjoy this great production, for it is great, but if they really want a refund, then they should be able to get their money back.

Two fat ladies sing

The Royal Opera's production of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hänsel and Gretel opened this week and was hugely enjoyable. Astonishingly, it was the first time the Royal Opera had put it on since 1937, a rather bizarre oversight. But perhaps that has been at the insistence of generations of sopranos. For what I particularly liked about this production was that the directors had two thin and attractive female singers, Angelika Kirschlager and Diana Damrau, pictured, playing the title roles, and somewhat sadistically have insisted on fattening them up. In a central scene from the production, the two ladies have to eat on stage every night a miniature gingerbread house made up of cakes and pastries.

I went backstage to congratulate both singers after the performance and saw them running down the corridors, presumably to lose the calories.

A little bad feeling goes a long way

Oh, how I love a press release I received this week on behalf of Jerry Dammers of that great band the Specials, who are now reforming. The statement informs us: "Jerry Dammers was the founder, main songwriter and driving force of the Specials. He recruited every member individually, and the musical and style direction were guided by him. He designed the 2 Tone logo and formed the 2 Tone record label."

You get the gist. The statement goes on to say that Jerry "has a duty to inform anybody who may be interested of the true situation, which is that he was not invited to take part in this proposed tour, or even told about it". Ouch! And the statement then goes on and on and on for a thousand words and more about the bad feeling between the Specials' driving force and other members of the band.

And I love it. I love it because this is true rock'n'roll. Amid all the hype about bands re-forming, one can forget the reason they usually broke up in the first place. They didn't like each other.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition