Friday, June 22, 2012

Odeon: Null Points

Last night I went to the (relatively new) Odeon cinema at the Point with some companions to see the UK National Theatre production of Frankenstein directed by Danny Boyle and starring Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch.  Originally produced in the spring of 2011, it was so successful a production that it was filmed and hence we can all see it.  The filming doesn't take away from the play, and you still hear and see the audience.  The two lead actors alternated roles each night playing the creature and Frankenstein.  I'd never read Mary Shelley's book or seen other adaptation, so I was truly impressed by the horror of it all, especially when you know that an 18 year old woman thought of the idea, and was just 21 when it was published.  I've often heard comments like "Frankenstein is the original horror story" and presumed it was a bit of a cliché, but wow.  There were parts of the story I did not see coming.  For something written almost 200 years ago, it still has a lot of resonance today, especially as scientists get ever closer to Frankenstein's aims of creating life in a non-traditional way.  It was a very physical play - a lot of jumping around and running and violence.  The set was awesome.  (I know - I always go on about sets).  It had this circular turn-style thing which at first appeared to just go around but then later rose and suck into the ground for different scenes.  What looked like a track of real grass was on the stage for a portion of the play, and the stage also rained.  I love it when they make stages rain!  The ceiling was hung with hundreds of light bulbs which were used to great effect.  All the acting was superb and intense, the cast support cast was excellent and the two leads both really deserve the Laurence Oliver award they shared for the roles.  I'm considering whether I might like to see them in the reversed roles but it was a hard watch, and somewhat soured by the experience I shall now relate.

However, the Odeon deserves no points.  They are, if you will, the Norway of cinemas.  I booked the tickets in advance.  The showing was for 19:15, and we duly arrived about 19:00. We made our way through a monument to the Celtic Tiger, a giant empty shopping centre.  I got the tickets from the machine and we proceeded straight in.  Our tickets were checked and went into a small but shiny, clean and new cinema.  There was a whole 2 other people in the cinema with us and we started to chat as we waited for the lights to dim.  And we waited.  And waited.  Then one of the group said "hey Claire, these tickets say 8pm, not 7.15" so I got out my phone and checked my original booking confirmation, which did indeed say the earlier time.  Not being known for shyness, I went straight out to ask what the story was.  A lady with an English accent said oh yes the time had changed, she'd just found out herself, very sorry.  She didn't look terribly sorry.  I asked could an email not have been sent out but she just repeated "all I can I say is I'm very sorry" and that she would pass it on to the manager.  She acted like I was being difficult in complaining about this, when surely getting the time right is a fundamental requirement for a cinema.  So I went back in and informed everyone of this change...no one else knew.  Since we were already there, we stayed and waited but were seriously not impressed.  Surely the people checking tickets could have informed us?  About 19:40, the same woman came into the screening room accompanied by another woman.  In a loud voice she announced "Does everyone know the screening time has been changed from 7.15 to 8 o'clock?  Is everyone ok with that?"  Some people actually said they were, but we all said no.  Spectacular customer service training there.  The other lady came up to us and said they would give us a free ticket each as an apology and hoped that we would come back.  We might but I don't think it'll be soon.  How could we be sure this wouldn't happen again?  By the time it was all over, it was nearly 10:30, easily the longest I've been at the cinema since Schindler's List - an entirely different kind of horror.

A side point: if you are intending to park there - you can get your parking ticket validated in the cinema and you'll only have to pay €5 for up to four hours instead of €2.70 an hour.  My companions were 3 minutes over the 4 hours, having eaten in the Gibson beforehand, so they paid €7.70 for the inconvenience. 

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