A while back, I wrote about my delightful experience watching Mamma Mia at the Palace Theatre in Manchester (briefly – the performance was ruined by two women sitting behind me who talked and sang loudly all the way through, and responded to any attempt to shush them with a volley of profanities, and the front-of-house staff, faced with complaints about them, for some reason let them back in for the second half, thus permitting them to ruin the entire show rather than just the first act).
I wrote a letter of complaint to the theatre’s general manager, explaining why I felt that the front of house staff’s response had been less than adequate, and asking for a refund, on the grounds that the theatre’s staff failed to take effective steps to deal with the problem. Four weeks went by with no reply, so I followed up with an email.
The theatre’s general manager has offered me a refund (he claimed not to have received my first letter, which is implausible but not impossible), and a cheque is apparently in the post. It pays to be persistent.
The moral of the story? When you encounter disruptive people in a theatre, complain to front of house. If you aren’t satisfied with the way your complaint was handled, follow up after the performance, in writing. Part of the job, working front of house, involves ensuring that nobody’s behaviour disrupts the show (usually, this is even enshrined in the booking conditions, which will contain a clause in which the theatre reserves the right to remove patrons whose behaviour disrupts the show for other members of the audience). It’s not a part of the job that anybody enjoys (trust me – been there, done that), but it is part of the job.
Now, granted, you may well get faster, more satisfying results via the use of a taser and a roll of duct tape, but that sort of thing carries criminal consequences including potential jail time. Which, come to think of it, might be slightly preferable to, say, sitting through Act Two of Ghost: The Musical, but that’s another story.