Ballots and theatre; Are critics required anymore

Punchdrunk (The Drowned Man, Sleep No More, Masque of the Red Death) is to stage a brand new production inspired by the remaining fragments of Aeschylus’ lost play The Kabeiroi this Autumn. Directed by Punchdrunk artistic director Felix Barrett, Kabeiroi will take place across London from 26 September – 5 November 2017.

Punchdrunk is committed to developing new ways to engage with culture. In a break from the company’s recognised format of mask shows played in found spaces in front of big audiences, Kabeiroi will take place in multiple locations across London and audiences will experience the show in groups of just two.

The ancient Greek tragedy about the women of Lemnos, written between 499 and 456 BC, is the middle play of a trilogy by Aeschylus and survives in just three mysterious fragments. Using what remains as a starting point, Punchdrunk will place audiences at the heart of the narrative over an extended six hour period.

Tickets for Kabeiroi are extremely limited. To ensure they are allocated as fairly as possible, audiences are invited to enter a ticket ballot which will open on 5 September at 12 noon. The ballot will close on Sunday 10 September at 6pm.

Please see www.punchdrunk.org.uk for more information.

So another day, another high price production accessible by ballot. Like RADA’s Hamlet it is going to be a hot ticket and is, on initial appearances, worth every penny. RADA were fundraising when they charged £95 and immersive theatre is not cheap, if we are going to anal about the cost then £9.16 per person, per hour is great value if this is anything like Punchdrunk’s previous efforts.

As a reviewer I, once again, cannot get free (press) tickets. Boo Hoo I don’t hear you cry. Neither RADA or Punchdrunk need to good reviews because demand will exceed supply but increasingly the reviewer feels redundant. As theatre gets more and more popular it means more hits for even small fry like this blog but it also means that people are more aware, booking in advance of reviews and leading to sold out shows.

Why bother with the traditional press night if you’ve sold 80% plus of allocation? Critics are, over time, becoming less of a key marketing tool and I am strangely fine with it. One of the things this blog has taught me, that general punter Shanine wasn’t always aware of, is that not only can I not see everything, it is not possible. I am sad I can’t get press tickets for my very loyal team of bloggers but reviewing isn’t just about the critic having a lovely time and a glass of wine. It is a record of a production that may never be seen again (Is it really crucial to keep a record of plays that will be digitally preserved), not a boast of all the must see shows that theatre fans have not been able to access.

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