Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thumbs Down for Soulpepper

It is unfortunate I have to write this post, but it is always instructive to see how organizations do during a crisis and frankly Soulpepper isn't inspiring me.  To give a bit of background, Soulpepper was supposed to have Ayckbourn's A Chorus of Disapproval this spring.  They say it was a return engagement, though I don't know how long ago it went up (probably before 2014).  In any case, they have decided to scrap this performance and replace it with La Bête by David Hirson.  I can't really tell if this is because a couple of actors are still boycotting Soulpepper or because Albert Schultz directed the original run and they don't want to validate anything he touched in the past.

However, I am not interested in La Bête.  Really, I was only strongly interested in Albee's A Fine Balance and A Chorus of Disapproval this season.  I had to really stretch to find four shows I wanted to see.  Had I known they were going to make the switch, I would not have subscribed in the first place.  What was particularly surprising is that all tickets for A Chorus of Disapproval have been rebooked for La Bête (as if theatre was an interchangeable commodity, and who would care what particular play they were seeing?). Anyway, there is a note that they are happy to accommodate subscribers, but what they don't say is that when you call the Box Office will only allow you to change to a different show.  They will not refund the ticket price for A Chorus of Disapproval.  I said I wasn't interested in any other show, and I wanted a refund.  They said a manager would get back in touch, but no one has to date.

I understand times are tight, and they just lost a big government grant, but this is no way to behave.  There is a very ugly term for switching a product without consent and then refusing to provide refunds: consumer fraud.  I can confidently state that I am so annoyed by these actions that it will be at least two to three seasons before I even consider subscribing again, if I even do at all, especially if they scrub Ayckbourne from their short list of playwrights that they program.  I am probably done with Soulpepper after this, aside from maybe a rush ticket here and there.  The real question will be how many others feel the same way.

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