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High culture clashed with low culture – and came off worst – when Tavistock tried to have its Goosey Fair funfair running at the same time as a broadcast of Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
A live recording of the play, at the Barbican in London, was due to be transmitted to The Wharf in Tavistock on Thursday evening at 7 pm and the event was a sell-out.
It was the day after Goosey Fair and both Wharf management and the visitors, who streamed in from Horrabridge and all over the area, were prepared for small parking problems, with the fun fair still in place until the weekend. But somebody on the technical side of the broadcasting arrangements service may have under-estimated the interference possibilities of a dozen giant rides running off generators, filling the Wharf’s usual carpark as far as its front door, and pumping out big bass soundtrack with accompanying whistles and screams.
The Wharf managers were confident that their theatre soundproofing would cope, and up to the last minutes before curtain up, they were directing ticket-holders into the bar, which was taking orders for the interval too.
Then somebody told owner and manager Angela Court that the satellite link was not working.
First job was to give half the night’s bar takings back in cash. Then began the long job of negotiating with all the ticket holders over whether they wanted to book another showing of Hamlet or use their tickets at another event or get a refund.
Today, the morning after, still mopping up the chaos and counting the cost, Mrs Court said: “We still don’t know why. We are looking into it. We have never had it before and we have never had a satellite event competing with the funfair before but I do not want to draw conclusions until we have been into it properly. “
Meanwhile, Tavistock Town Council will have to weigh its Goosey Fair income against the grumbles from the literati and the Cumberbitches of West Devon.
Commenting on our report, Mrs Court objected to the word “chaos”. She felt she and her staff had done well in the circumstances. She stressed again that the funfair was not yet proven as the problem – although it was shut down when her system was tested the following day and worked perfectly. And she said: “I only refunded £12.90 of bar takings, so it wasn’t that big a problem.”