I was commanded the last minute to fly to London. I had to stay there for four days. I love London anyway so I was not to complain. Besides, London flights are already hard to get by.
Lucky me, that week was the opening week for Hamlet. I have waited for almost a year for it ever since it was announced that Mr. Cumberbatch was playing the title role.
On the day of the premier night, I decided to go to the Barbican to check if they had available tickets for the opening night. I was advised to wait for possible returns. So, I did. I queued. It was not a short line. It was 11:30-ish that time.
I expected to at most wait for two hours for a return ticket. I thought that it was not bad. I am used to waiting and queuing. So, while I waited, I decided to type. Not literature. Fanmail. It was my first time to write fanmail. It was not for Mr. Cumberbatch. It was for Mr. Hiddleston. That is a whole different story altogether.
More than two hours later, I was done with my typing. Half of the people in line in front of me already left and gave up. Hoorah. At that time, journalists and reporters came to interview us. I declined. Good thing, I always packed crackers and granola bars with me along with a bottle of water. So, that was my late lunch.
The person waited beside me suddenly spoke up. She asked how long was I waiting. I answered that I came around forty minutes before she did. She then talked about how surprising it was that the queue was not as long as she expected. It was my first time to queue for a theatre ticket so I did not know but I did expect a longer line than the one we were in. We eventually talked about Mr. Cumberbatch and the play. Then, we talked about theatre in general. She was more of an enthusiast that I was. Then, we talked about the Tube strike that day. She said it was the worst ever since she stayed in London which was years. I did not mind the strike. I was used to transportation disruptions. I grew up with it. We had this hope that the strike would be a cause for more return tickets to come in so that we would not be waiting for nothing. She was nice. Her name was Gracia.
Two hours later, the first of returns came. They were in the section where those far-off seats could be found. The people waiting before us took it. Another hour and more tickets came. By five in the afternoon, I was second in line with Gracia behind me. By that time, the line was getting long.
The woman in front of me was Maria. There were three of us talking. We chatted about how strict the production was and their distaste with crappy theatre memberships. We talked about queuing too. Maria apparently waited in line for the Wimbledon Open for tickets. She waited overnight. Why? Just because. She said it was a fun experience.
By six, people were already coming in to claim their tickets for the show. We were jokingly cursing them amongst ourselves for flaunting their fortune with their mere presence. Still, no returns. The show starts at 19:20.
Thirty minutes later, a group of people came with returns. Three tickets. It was in the Circle station. Maria was buying for two. I took the other one. Gracia was hoping for Stalls so she would not take it anyway. I was highly ecstatic. I waited for at least six hours for the tickets. I even interviewed the clerk about how good the seat was. I was dishing out £62.50 for it. It was the most expensive theatre ticket that I have ever bought. Girl from a developing country here. She assured me enough that it was a good seat. I was still cynical. It might be all sales talk.
Once I entered and got my seat, I could not remove the stupid grin off my face. It was a really really good seat. I could see everything. By the stalls, I could see Gracia by the end of the third or fourth row from the stage. She got her desired seat after all. I was in awe. I could even see the smirk on Mr. Cumberbatch’s face while he was performing. That was how good it was.
The wait was worth it. The lack of proper eating was worth it. The money that I spent was worth it. The long midnight journey home was worth it. I do tip my hat to Mr. Cumberbatch, the rest of the cast and crew of Hamlet. It was beautiful. It was a tragedy with a dash of comic relief and surrealism. I am not a proper critic. I could not truly express the good and bad points that I see in a play, movie, book, or whatever. But, as an enthusiast, Hamlet is worth it.
PS. I regret not being able to get Gracia and Maria’s contact. If any of you who read these know them, please let me know so I could contact them personally. Thank you.