As Lyn Gardner points out in The Guardian theatre blog (an aside: all the Guardian blogs have just moved to a new platform and been redesigned – but where's the permalink in amid all this "book this restaurant" buttons?), some people book their holidays years in advance, others make sure their theatre tickets are in the bag in very good time. I can't say I do either, but have made an exception for David Tennant's Hamlet. We are going to see it in the upcoming October half-term, and I booked the tickets last July (that's 2007). A first for me – I'm a "call in at the National at 10 am and get a day ticket for £10 in second row of stalls for Anthony Hopkins as Lear" person myself. However, I am told by my daughters that this David Tennant chap is rather good, and as one of them is studying Hamlet at school I conquered my fear of hubris about the future and my aversion to Barty Crouch, Jr, and booked the darn things. Of course, as at that stage I had no clue about what would be happening over the summer vacation, I plumped for the October date. From all accounts, the production is excellent and I will not be pining for my lovely 1940s blond Laurence Olivier version. But unlike Lyn, I will not be repeating the exercise for Jude Law in 2009.
Among other points, Lyn wonders what will happen if Mr Tennant calls in sick on 27 December and she and her party have to watch the understudy. I remember when this once happened to me. It was while I was living in Manchester and I was very excited that the then very new National Theatre planned a tour to those northern wastes (as then were). I booked a ticket for whatever the show was, I forget now. But something happened, the show was cancelled. They had to put on a substitute. What? The Merchant of Venice, with Olivier as Shylock and Joan Plowright as Portia. Those few of us who held tickets for the cancelled production enjoyed a wonderful treat, without having to pay the greatly inflated prices charged by the touts who immediately snapped up the 80 per cent of tickets that hadn't been sold for the advertised show. It was my only opportunity to see Olivier in the flesh, probably for the cost of about a fiver or less. Just "goes to show".