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Theatregoers disappointed to find Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury shut after arriving for Queen Machine Symphonic show

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Dozens of theatregoers arrived at Kent's biggest theatre for a performance - only to find it shut and left in darkness.

Angry ticketholders have complained they were given no warning by The Marlowe when the much-anticipated show was cancelled, prompting an apology from the Canterbury theatre.

The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury
The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury

Among disappointed customers was Angela Ayling, who branded the lack of communication "disgusting".

Mrs Ayling had been looking forward to watching Queen Machine Symphonic - which sees classic Queen hits performed by London Symphonic Rock Orchestra together with other musicians - for nearly two years after receiving tickets for Christmas 2019.

On Sunday, she, her husband, mother-in-law and mother-in-law's partner visited Canterbury for dinner before heading to the Marlowe.

But they were "disappointed" to find it closed, without explanation.

Mrs Ayling, from Broad Oak, says about 50 other confused ticketholders were also standing outside the theatre.

"They were miffed, just as we were," she said. "One couple had booked a hotel for the night, specially.

"There was no one inside the theatre. It was completely in darkness, and we're all stood outside and no one knew what was going on. There was no notification.

"We just went home in the end."

Another cross customer wrote on The Marlowe's Facebook page: "You were supposed to be showing the rearranged Queen Machine tonight. My parents were waiting outside with about 40 others! What happened to your communication?"

The Marlowe posted a short message on its Facebook page on Saturday. Picture: The Marlowe Theatre/Facebook
The Marlowe posted a short message on its Facebook page on Saturday. Picture: The Marlowe Theatre/Facebook

The Marlowe says it contacted ticketholders after the show was rescheduled by its producer, to September 24 next year.

It has apologised for the fact the message did not reach "a small number" of people.

But Mrs Ayling says "fifty-odd people" arrived at the theatre for the show.

"That's disgusting," she said.

A short message had been posted on The Marlowe's Facebook page on Saturday to inform people the theatre would be closed the next day.

But Mrs Ayling pointed out: "If you're not on Facebook, how do you see it? I don't use Facebook and nor does my mother-in-law, so how would we know?

"We didn't get any notification until the morning after, but it was too late then."

Her mother-in-law has now received a refund for the tickets, and Mrs Ayling says they are unlikely to attend the rescheduled show next year.

Responding to the incident, a Marlowe Theatre spokesman said: "Whilst we made every effort to contact customers who had tickets booked for the performance, it appears that the message did not reach a small number of audience members.

"We are looking into why this happened and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Monday marked 10 years since the new Marlowe Theatre opened in Canterbury. Read more about the highs and lows of its last decade here.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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