ATG Tickets has admitted its online ticketing system struggled to cope with the “unprecedented demand” as fans hoped to see Ian McKellen in King Lear.

Fans were left frustrated as the ATG Tickets website began to slow down and left many people waiting in long online queues. Many reported that the system even broke once they came to actually purchasing the tickets.

Tickets to 100 performances at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End went on sale at midday yesterday (Thursday). Tony Award winning McKellen, who starred as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and as Magneto in the X-Men films, made his first appearance in the West End in 1965.

As an influx of fans rushed to get a glimpse of the veteran actor, the system failed under the demand and many theatre aficionados took to social media to express their anger, with one person tweeting: “Bought a lot of tickets over the years but trying to buy King Lear tickets today via @ATGTICKETS is undoubtedly the worst experience.”

ATG Tickets said in a statement to, “We are experiencing unprecedented demand for King Lear tickets, and we’re asking customers to be patient as they wait in our queuing system.”

The site’s Twitter feed meanwhile added, “We are aware some customers have been experiencing issues booking tickets for King Lear due to a high volume of interest.

“We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”

A further tweet added that the site was experiencing “unprecedented demand”, and asked people who had experienced issues to send a direct message with their details.

However, many fans were successful in securing tickets to see King Lear through the ATG Tickets website or by phoning up the company.

Image: Gage Skidmore