Theatre review: Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die

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The play's object of obsession,Brit actor Benedict Cumberbatch (AP)
The play's object of obsession,Brit actor Benedict Cumberbatch (AP)

Playwright Abby Howells had the Basement theatre rocking with laughter with a sharply scripted comedy about the creepy side of fandom.

At the same time she delivers a timely message on how imaginative identification with the fabulous lives of the rich and the famous can undermine our ability to live our own lives.

While there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments the show never feels like a stand-up routine due the careful attention paid to the fundamentals of storytelling and character.

The three members of the ''Cumberbitches'' fan club are wildly exaggerated stereotypes but they each represent different aspects of a very human yearning for something that can take us beyond the banality of our every day existence.

The three young actors do a great job of humanizing the chronically fixated misfits who find some solace in whole-hearted devotion to their idol.

Playing the part of an aspiring actor and founder of the fan-club, Frith Horan initially appears to be the most normal of the group but is revealed to be the most deeply deluded in her belief that she operates in an elevated sphere where she has achieved some sort of mystical bonding with Benedict Cumberbatch.

Donna Brookbanks brings an endearingly earnest quality to her portrayal of a naive, socially awkward stay-at-home who is painfully aware of her own short-comings and emerges as the most clear sighted of the group.

Lucy Suttor wins plenty of laughs as an intense, brooding presence who swings between biting sarcasm and episodes where she loses herself in erotic fantasies.

The well structure story achieves a surprisingly satisfying conclusion when the fans discover that indulging in the extremes of imaginative fantasy can have a therapeutic effect.

What: Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die

Where: Basement Theatre, to Feb 27.

- NZ Herald

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