Alcie and I feel so blessed to have gotten to go to the final recording. After it was over we went to the washroom, checked the stalls to make sure we were alone, and then let the calm front we’d been putting on totally evaporate. It was amazing, it was fantastic, it was, yes yes yes, brilliant!
I’m afraid I’m on my phone and can’t do a read more, but I’m going to keep this spoiler free.
When David Tyler came on, we were all nervous and quiet (except for that one person who clapped, go you, person!) And he joked that we were right not to clap, since he was only the producer, which of course got him a huge round of cheers and applause. He introduced the show, asked us to refrain from taking photographs till the end of the recording, and told us to tell anyone who asked for a spoiler that it was the flap on an aeroplane’s wing that assists in landing. Then he brought in the guest cast one by one, to enthusiastic cheers each, and finally the main cast came in together, to absolutely deafening applause.
John came to the mic and started singing Sinatra’s ‘My Way’, interrupting himself, starting over, making a joke, starting over… the show hadn’t even started and he already had us in stitches. He gave us a very brief welcome, and then said of the final recording: “it goes a little like this…”
With that we were off! To watch the recording was an absolute pleasure. I actually have slight astigmatism and decided I absolutely needed my specs five minutes in, because the expressions! The boundless energy! Every time John came up to the mic he became Arthur, silly face and wide bulging eyes. Benedict, too, was so fun to watch when he’d say a line or react to one. Stephanie would lean up to the mic and deliver her line and it’d just be utterly perfect (except for that one time it wasn’t and she swore and then caught herself). I’m afraid that every time John came up to the mic he stole the show, so I never really paid much attention to Roger while he delivered his lines, but what a lovely man. He was the only one to arrive on foot, and when he came past us, I couldn’t help blurting out a shy hello and he responded with a friendly hello in return! My heart was all aflutter!
I finally know what the mysterious pineapple on a stick is for! The top lights up green to indicate that the actors can start their lines. It didn’t always behave, though, and there was once in the pickups when John came in all ready to say his line and it never went off, so he slink back towards his seat.
Oh I have to talk about the look on John’s face. Wait okay firstly I did come for the Cumberbatch. I got into Cabin Pressure because of him so yes I was there for the show but I also thought I would spend the recording staring at his face. Instead, I couldn’t help constantly glancing over to John, even when he didn’t have any lines. He had this look of joy on, always, and he’d laugh when lines were funny, and he’d look from the actors to the audience like he was gauging our response sometimes. He was absolutely so delighted, and I just realised how this must have felt for him, to see a script he’d been slaving over brought to life and getting the vindication for it right away in front of a live studio audience. I’m so so so happy that I got to be a part of making him smile like that, even when once it was an absolutely evil laugh because of one scene.
Benedict, on the other hand, was very attuned to the other cast members and focused, often looking from person to person while they said their lines, and then responding. He never looked at the audience that I noticed, and was just very, very professional. Of course there were the jokes and the light ribbing, but I got the sense that it didn’t matter if we were there or not, he was there to do his best at his job, and he did.
I can’t talk about the guest cast and the laughs they gave us without potentially revealing who they are, but I will say that they were fantastic and it wouldn’t have been the same show without them. One of them I didn’t even know it was my life goal to meet until I met them, and I will cherish that handshake forever.
One thing you definitely need to be there to see is the fluid dance in front of the mic. I don’t know if they rehearsed it, but it was mesmerising the way someone would slide out of the way for someone else to cut in, the way everyone leaned away to turn a page (although once Benedict couldn’t quite manage to turn his and he made a “hnnrgh” sound and had to redo the bit). The actors who came in later would quietly walk up and slip in, and then slip out again when not needed. It’s one of those behind the scenes things that remind you that these are skilled professionals that are working to deliver a product, and every single one of them should be lauded and appreciated.
The show ended.
I know, I feel it too, you guys. I won’t say how I feel about the ending, only the end: bitter, bittersweet. I think the hugs among the cast, and John leaning in to give Stephanie a peck on the cheek showed how emotional it was for them too, probably even more so.
John came up to give his farewell speech. He said he’d prepared a bunch of joke telegraphs from various characters that couldn’t be there, and if I related the one that he did do, that’d be a spoiler too, so I won’t, but it was very funny. However, John couldn’t go through with it, because I guess there was so much else to say.
He thanked his parents, especially his dad for being the aviation consultant. He told a fan later who asked that his dad’s experience in aviation was what inspired him to write Cabin Pressure. He kept going a little disjointed, but who can blame the man? He said that the things he were saying were cliches, but they were so true. He thanked the cast and thanked us. At one point Alcie said she saw Roger dash a tear from his eye.
Then the mad dash for pictures and autographs started. The circle around Benedict grew so quickly Alcie and I thought it might be better to head for the guest cast instead. That’s when I got my favourite handshake, no other handshake will ever come close. When we decided to try to get a picture with Benedict I think he was starting to feel a little harassed or overwhelmed, and he asked if the photographs could be done in groups instead as he wouldn’t have time for everyone otherwise. Alcie and I managed to get a polaroid with him in which he absolutely looks like a angel I don’t know what he talks about when he says he’s not a looker. He put his arms around us and his hands on our backs! Wow gosh gosh gosh gosh wow I’m having palpitations just remembering the moment. I’m calling it my touched by an angel moment.
We got polaroids with Roger and John as well, Roger being very impressed by our “retro” camera (it was an instax) and John being very patient waiting for the camera to spit out our photos so he could sign them. I told him as he signed that we’d come from Singapore, and he said “not just for this though?” And I said no, it was for a holiday, he said “good”.
When we emerged from John’s presence, Benedict and most of the cast had vanished (so we didn’t get a chance to take a polaroid with Stephanie!) but we got one last one with a guest cast member before he disappeared behind the black curtain and then it was time for our private toilet-located freak out.
Grace and dad Daniel, if you see this, I’m so glad you had fun and it was nice to meet you! Jillian, I hope you got to meet Benedict when he came out and have a photograph, good luck with your studies! Fellow audience members: WASN’T IT AMAZING.
Oh yes, there were some jokes about the show airing at Christmas from David and the cast, but I don’t know if they meant it, so no, I wouldn’t say it’s confirmed one way or another.
Okay I’m supposed to get back to actually exploring London rather than the space behind two large dumpsters by RADA Studios, so I’m off. I hope I managed to bring you some of the fun of the evening. Thank you for flying MJN air