How to Survive Queuing for (Hamlet) Day Tickets

On the 11th August at 4:00am I was awoken loudly and suddenly by ‘ascending’ blasting out of my phone. My first thought that came to mind was ‘why on earth am I doing this?’, but then I remembered Benedict Cumberbatch, my love of Shakespeare and the fact that I had already booked my cab (so I couldn’t cancel it) set me at ease. I then had to creep around the house, get ready, eat my cereal and wait for John, my Addison Lee driver, to pick me up.

When John arrived it was 4:20am. I got in and chatted to him until we reached the Barbican Centre (4:30am- a very quick drive). When I got out, I was shocked. I saw sleeping bags, blankets and pillows and a mass of people. I didn’t expect to see this many, I thought I would be one of the few mad willing to queue. I went over and took my place next to a fellow Cumberbatch fan called Vicki, she arrived at 3:45am. We chatted briefly until another man arrived and my friends Amelia, followed by Imani. We then waited..

Biscuits, grapes and tea, supplied by Imani were consumed. I was shunned, however, as I left the multi pack of wotsits at home.. fatal error. (See my what to bring list below)

By 5:30 my posterior started to get cold so more blankets were whipped out of one of the many bags we had. Imani was blissfully happy as she was sat on a camping chair, smugly looking down at us. At 6:30 we started to see all the London commuters going to their jobs, smiling sadly at us, and giving us reassuring nods to try and raise our spirits. It did not work, as by 7:00, we were all losing the will to live. However, that all changed when an authoritative person saved us by starting to move us inside the building (7:45).

We then waited a further three hours, and finally, we were next in line for the tickets. As a staff member came to escort us to the available desk, we were relieved. That is until she said, ‘I’m sorry there aren’t any seating tickets left’. My heart sank, I couldn’t believe it, six hours of waiting for this, ‘..but there are still some standing tickets, if you would like those instead’. Joy spread through my body, thank god, I thought, all of this waiting was for something.

We purchased our tickets and left the centre triumphant.

What to Bring ✔

  • Snacks -you’ll be waiting for 6+ hours (depending what time you get there) and you will get hungry. NTS: remember the wotsits!
  • Water -as well as snacks, water is vital. However, don’t drink too much because you might need the loo. Always make sure that there is one somewhere, just in case.
  • Camping chair -we were all very jealous of Imani’s one. It means you don’t have to sit on the cold floor!
  • Blankets -if you don’t have a camping chair then bring plenty of blankets, you will get cold.
  • Warm clothes -to repeat again, you will get cold.
  • Phone/ other electronic device -with plenty of battery. As there’s free wifi at the Barbican Centre, Vicki was watching films on Netflix on an iPad.
  • Money -to buy the tickets! Always bring a little bit extra, in case you have to buy a more expensive option
  • Friends -it’s a fun adventure to do, and with friends… even better!
  • A photo ID -the Barbican Centre requires you to have one.

Remember, once you have your tickets go home and sleep before you show, otherwise you won’t be awake during the actual performance!

Also, the Barbican Centre allows people to buy up to two tickets per person, and there are only 30 seating tickets. However, don’t give up if you’re after person number 15, as they do sell standing tickets (the ones that I bought) and they also sell returns. Don’t give up!

My review of Hamlet will be uploaded soon.. until then,

Thanks for reading,

Amelia xxx


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