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i like your moxie, sassafras!

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but wait, there's more! (London photos)
me in springfield

Inside the National Portrait Gallery, I went straight up to see Richard III (a favorite since I read Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, lo, these many moons ago) and then worked my way down to the quite unappealing photograph of Benedict Cumberbatch hanging in the modern area (seriously, it's one of the least flattering pictures I've seen of him, turning his face into a collection of odd parts instead of the surprisingly harmonious whole those odd parts can be). Anyway.

And then I headed over to the National Theatre for a concert - South American jazz, mostly. And that whole day (except for the sandwich) was free. Go London!

I decided to queue for day tickets for Frankenstein, so Tuesday morning I got to the National Theatre at 4:30 (it would have been 4:15 if I could have found an unobstructed staircase down to theatre level!) and was the seventh person in line. I struck up a conversation with the man in front of me - let's call him JG - who lives in Sydney and visits London every few months to see every theatre production he can get tickets to - ten or eleven shows in seven days. What a nice life. The line grew to gargantuan, even epic, proportions, but he and I scored front-row seats to the matinée (the five in front of us wanted evening seats) for twelve pounds each (!). Ticket firmly in hand, I went off to explore and found myself in front of Shakespeare's Globe and then wandered over to the Tate Modern:
I loved this piece in particular - the women are a band of individuals, looking so fragile and attenuated but absolutely strong at the same time.

And on the way back to the NT from the Tate, I passed some construction work, which had been decorated with these commissioned pencil drawings:
Beautiful, right?

Frankenstein was absolutely amazing to watch in the theatre - an absolute privilege. (Benedict Cumberbatch played the Creature in this performance.) I still think the play itself is wildly uneven, clumsy at translating ideas into setting and dialogue, but Benedict gave a whole-hearted performance that swept me up entirely, all of the Creature's emotions pulsing through the theatre. It was fascinating to see how the performances had evolved - in my review of the two filmed versions, I had mentioned that Benedict's Creature didn't react to the fire going out, but in this performance he did, making a noise like a curious cat as the fire died down. There are some theatre experiences that I know I'll always remember and this is one of them. Just masterful.

And it turned out to be very lucky that I'd opted for the matinée, because Benedict was too ill to perform in the evening show. Of course, I didn't find out about that until the next morning, when Kate and I queued to get into the Wednesday afternoon double-session recording of Cabin Pressure! I got to meet ginbitch and fengirl88 and for one brief shining moment, mariemjs, which was lovely. So we're waiting in line, along with many (younger, shriller) fans of Benedict, watching as the actors walked by us to get inside, and then John Finnemore and David Tyler (the director and producer) came out to let us know that Benedict had lost his voice and wouldn't be recording that day; they adorably offered mini-muffins to cushion the blow, and I am pleased to say that not one person left the queue in a huff. Thank you for being classy, Cabin Pressure fandom! We continued to wait, and while I was bummed because I wanted to witness Benedict exercising his considerable comedy chops in person, the actor (Tom Goodman-Hill) who played Martin during the recording (and will be heard when the episodes air) was very good.

I'd never been to a studio recording before, so I was interested to see how it would all happen. We took our seats (there was a bit of a mad scramble, which surely numbering the tickets by queue order would prevent) and then David Tyler came out to do a bit of audience prep and patter - he's very funny all on his own, by the way. Casting & episode title spoilers start here: Then the cast came out - John Finnemore, Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam, TGH - plus guest stars, the only two of whom I recognized were Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies) and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles in Buffy). They all looked loose and fit and happy to be there. The two eps we saw recorded were "Newcastle" and "Ottery-St.-Mary" and then ASH did some lines from Monday's episode ("Rotterdam"?). ASH was clearly having a lot of fun - there was one scene where he and Douglas have a battle of the velvet voices that turned almost obscene because of just how caressing ASH and RA can make their voices. Casting & episode title spoilers end

More generally, John Finnemore is absolutely adorable. I was surprised to realize he doesn't put on an Arthur voice - that really is his voice. He started off the session by saying he knew everyone was wondering the same thing: "where is Ben, really? Hollywood? Rehab? Thai prison?" He noted that the Drill Hall (where the recording session was) was quite close to Baker Street, and that he "fear[s] Ben may be striding up and down Baker Street shouting at passersby for a riding crop." Then he digressed from Ben to Martin, noting that the shirt he, JF, was wearing was very Arthurish (white with a light blue vaguely floral design), but with a touch of Martin (the shirt had epaulets), imagining Martin wearing such a shirt even on vacation). During the recording session, when TGH did anything that was clearly not how BC would do it (positioning around a microphone, flubbing a line, etc.), RA pulled out his phone and pretended to call Ben, saying they needed him back pronto. I don't want to spoil the eps, but we do learn the name of Martin's moving company and Carolyn's dog. We also see two of our lovely crew in romantic situations.

We stayed after the session was over and JF stopped by. He sorted out Easter plans with his family and then started signing things and taking pictures with the fans who'd lingered. When he finally got to us, he was still excited and happy. I told him I'd flown over from New York to attend the recording session and his eyes got VERY big and round and he immediately said, "oh, you shouldn't have done that!" So he signed my "playbill" with "You idiot!" After he did an otter impression (prompted by ginbitch), I asked if it was true this was the last series; he said no, what he'd said at the Monday evening recording was that it was the last episode of this series (PHEW!). He signed stuff for some other fans nearby, including drawings of planes - one girl pointed out he'd left out "the pointy end" so he added that in plus some other details. Then another girl asked for a fancy signature (and he looked at the Roger and Stephanie signatures already on the page and said they were clearly done by people used to signing their names) so he tried a fancy thing and started giggling at his own ineptitude and how it turned out - an illegible signature and a sad little sketch of a plane. Then he said, "Wait! I know how to fix it!" So he signed properly on the other side and wrote "Ben X" under the crappy sketch, thus neatly passing the blame to the man with no voice, who wasn't even there to defend himself. John Finnemore, you are awesome.

Dinner with ginbitch and fengirl88 and then Kate and I headed home and caught episode 2 of The Crimson Petal and the White (hello, bearded Mark Gatiss!). The next day we were magnificently lazy and stayed home to catch up on lj and quiet time. I headed into the city to see the reverse-casting matinée (JG had queued for both of us) of Frankenstein. Again, BC was stellar, and Jonny Lee Miller does far better with the role of the Creature than he had with the role of Frankenstein, though I prefer Benedict's take on each by far. And Ben looked at me! Twice! Once, when he had to locate where on the stage the knife had fallen (very close to my face, thank you very much, National Theatre) and again during the curtain call, when I was grinning like a loon and cheering madly.

I met up with Kate after that for a quick tour of the V&A, which I'd never seen before, and now I want another trip to London just to explore it at a more leisurely pace:
If anyone is wondering what to get me for my birthday, you have a few months to start saving up for these earrings:
Or I'd take these two, with their great comedic faces:

A nice dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant, and we went home to watch the first half of To the Ends of the Earth - I could not adore Edmund Talbot as played by Benedict Cumberbatch more.


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Just a flyby comment to say that I too always go to see Richard III because I read Daughter of Time when I was 9. :)

Oh I love John Finnemore! I started listening to Cabin Pressure because of BC but now I would dearly love to get a signature from him and I'm becoming a huge fan!

I was surprised to realize he doesn't put on an Arthur voice - that really is his voice.

You should listen to him when he's on 'The Now Show' - it's Arthur gone all ranty! :D

Love the write up, although you're not helping me with my burgeoning Finnemore crush. Dammit, why is that man so adorable?

What is The Now Show? A take on current events?

Was I supposed to be helping? Would it be helpful to know that he has really beautiful eyes - light, clear brown?

Thank you so much for this writeup! I loved in particular the account of Mr. Finnemore's autograph shenanigans; the man gets more and more adorable each time I hear of him. :D And I can't wait to hear the Anthony Stewart Head and RA showdown - such gorgeous voices.

"Shenanigans" is a word that could have been made with JF in mind!

:D :D Thank you so much for this write-up! Sounds like you had a great time, and I am COMPLETELY jealous. :) I am INCREDIBLY intrigued about us seeing 'two of our crew in romantic situations'....Also terribly glad that this isn't the last season :D

The RELIEF I felt when I heard it wasn't the last season!

I'll tell you more if you want, just didn't want to spoil everyone. PM me if you'd like, okay?

I am burning with jealousy of your trip - TWO Frankenstein viewings, what luck. And Cabin Pressure with bonus not!Ben and two glances from the man himself. And all kinds of other nifty things. I am going to go wash down my envy with copious amounts of something alcoholic. *growls*

*flounces off*

(You've inspired me to get my London photos in order and post them. Duh.)

I love that sculpture of the woman reading!

Oh, lovely! I'm glad you got to see BC before he succumbed to whatever it was! I've only heard a couple of episodes of Cabin Pressure, but I wondered if John Finnemore's voice really sounded like that all the time. Now I know!

You take wonderful photos. I am quite in awe.

I had imagined that Arthur voice to be a total sham and for JF's real voice to be much more suave, but it is incredibly endearing to know that it's not!

I do wish I'd been able to see Ben being funny, but seeing him be masterful and heartbreaking and marvelous was an incredible privilege anyway!


Oh, JF! I listened to oodles of Cabin Pressure today, and have been in quite the Finnemore Affection Zone.

Do you have a favorite ep? Mine is "Johannesburg," by far.

What a wonderful write-up! John Finnemore's autograph antics are amazing.

ASH was clearly having a lot of fun - there was one scene where he and Douglas have a battle of the velvet voices that turned almost obscene because of just how caressing ASH and RA can make their voices.

Nnnnng. And Cabin Pressure continues to cement its place in my heart as the most voice porn-tastic show ever.

We also see two of our lovely crew in romantic situations.

I really hope one of them is Martin, just because he seems so very lonely. But then, it's Martin. How could that possibly go well?

It was actually hard to stay demurely seated when the velvet-off began - we were all a bit squirmy as those voices hit us right there! Bravo to JF for casting the show to be such a lovely aural experience!

I'm happy to share spoilers, if you want to PM me.

Were you waiting for John Finnemore inside or outside? Myself and my two friends were the first he spoke to after his family, though I hadn't the courage to ask for an autograph or anything, especially not after he'd obliged with the picture. He was so sweet and such a gentleman, and now hearing of your experience meeting him makes him seem even more adorable! Goodness that sounds so fangirly, but we were really quite taken aback by how lovely he was anyway :)

Thank you for the write-up; it's made some memories a lot clearer :D

We were inside, and so shy about it that we kept missing our opportunity until we finally decided to pluck up a little courage and just do it. He's lovely.

Hee! I'm not sure if I'm one girl or another girl, as it was I who questioned the worrying lack of pointy end in the first plane drawing and who mysteriously had my ticket signed by the absentee cast member. Didn't exactly ask for a fancy sig, just gave John leave for further experimentation, which was possibly ill-advised. (Balderdash - I love that random squiggle, tiny plane, attribution to poor defenceless Ben and real signature from Finnemore extremely dearly.)

The voice-porn is to be in Rotterdam. ASH's stand-in at the original recording did such a funny-yet-lascivious job, I almost didn't want a re-record, but it was awesome (and who wouldn't want to hear Roger doing that scene twice?).

Carolyn's dog is named in Abu Dhabi, when it's having a bath, btw. It sounds so silly that I thought it was just the sort of baby talk people use with animals. In retrospect, Carolyn and baby talk? Not making one iota of sense. Martin's company name is triumphantly rubbish, bless him.

Ah, I must have confused you and your friends a little - apologies. Your autographed sheet is awesome.

Kate did say that she thought she'd heard Carolyn's dog's name before, but I had no such memory - thanks for pinpointing it for me! I have a long and sad theory about Martin's company name that might go into a fic.

I'll start saving for those V&A earrings. Or start practising my museum break-in plans. They ARE rather nice.

And that artistic construction-work-covering is amazing!

John Finnemore's face when you told him what you'd done was hilarious :)

*off to read your analysis of the film version of Frankenstein. I've been SO good at leaving them alone the entire time I was waiting to see it!*

While you're snatching the V&A chandelier for yourself, just snag the earrings for me, would you?

John Finnemore has such a great face! And very expressive eyes, when he bugs them out that far!

I can see I need to add a few more museum trips to my list as well. Such beautiful things!

Thanks for linking me here (I'm X from John Watson's blog, hee) and for the spoilers! I'm... unreasonably disappointed that there will be Cabin Pressure episodes without BC as Martin, because that just doesn't seem right somehow (I love the BBC radio adaptations of ACD's Holmes stories, but man, when they switched Watson actors I was >:[ WHO IS THIS PRETENDING TO BE WATSON), but it does sound as though he'll be back for future episodes so that's all right.

(I was just picturing BC and ASH in one episode. Oh my lord, the voice porn that would have been. NGMF). Would you happen to know when the episodes are going to be aired, by any chance? If not, no worries; I'm not an active member of the fandom and so don't know what spoilers are floating around in that respect. :D

Apparently, there will be only one ep without BC - he recorded his lines for one of the ones he'd missed. Though even one without him is too many! The new eps start on July 1, which is SOON!

And yes, the voice porn with RA and ASH was quite extraordinary - add BC into that and I would have been a puddle!

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