November 6, 2006, by Peter Kirwan

The Returns Game

Last night was the biggest hurdle in the goal to see The Complete Works. ‘The Phoenix And The Turtle’, a one-off event, had sold out before priority booking even opened. With tickets strictly limited to 200, based on the capacity of Holy Trinity Church where the main event was happening, there were no day tickets and nothing held back. Among the committed hardcore group of about 12 people who turned up on the day for tickets, almost all of us had been calling for returns on a daily basis, and last night saw me waiting for hours in Stratford, far past the point at which public transport could take me home, in the desperate hope of getting something at the very last minute.

Further complications were added by a talk happening an hour and a half before ‘The Phoenix’- Pippo del Bono, the director of ‘Henry V’, coming in February, was holding an event called ‘Tales Of June’ in the Cube earlier in the evening. While not one of the 54 productions that I’m seeing in order to complete the Bardathon, it was something I would have still loved to go to. However, going to it would have meant that I would lose my place in the queue for ‘Phoenix’ tickets.

This is the Returns Game. Working out which queue to wait in, where the best hope of a ticket will be and whether it’s worth risking seeing nothing by waiting for the less likely event, or whether to see the lesser event and potentially forego the chance of a ticket to the other.

I opted for being first in the queue at the ‘Tales of June’ box office, and was told as soon as it opened that nothing had been returned for ‘Phoenix’. Some people in the queue gave up and went home at this point, others decided to just go to ‘Tales of June’ instead. I opted to go and wait at the Courtyard Theatre for the ‘Phoenix’ box office to open, which it did two hours later.

To cut a long and rambling story short, I made the right decision- first in the queue, and at 8pm a lady walked in with a spare ticket. She got a hug from a very happy Shakespeare student!

The only slightly annoying thing was that one lady who decided to risk going to ‘Tales Of June’ managed to see it, then come to the Courtyard and still get a return for ‘Phoenix’, so managed to see both events! Quite jealous, but then again I know if I’d taken the risk it probably wouldn’t have paid off. ‘June’ would have been nice to go to, but ‘Phoenix’ was the important one, and I’m still on to complete the Complete Works!

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