Benedict Cumberbatch. The theatre’s most wanted man. A name which can murder the internet, create a fiery debate in the office (Is he the otter? Nope! Is he the dragon? Well sort of. Is the gardener? Get out of here!) and make you turn every newspaper face down in hope to avoid the Cumber hype. Pushing all this light-hearted banter aside, I owe my life to this man named Benedict Cumberbatch.
Falling into the typical Sherlock fangirl mould (I refused to call myself a Cumberbitch), I declared my “undying” love towards this strange-looking, posh bloke who I knew very little about. At the time, I was the perfect victim to every eBay seller and the easiest friend at Christmas. From a lavender scented pillow, “Sherlock is my homeboy” t-shirt to “adult” colouring book and his autograph on my love placard, I was like bloody Olivia Newton-John singing “Hopelessly Devoted to You”. Beating the media’s love hearts out of my eyes, I hijacked true appreciation with deadly obsession.
Booking my seat for Frankenstein, I was the National Theatre’s fool. Theatre bloggers, I give you permission to place me in the stocks! I did not care for theatre, Nick Dear, Frankenstein or even Mary Shelley. I was there to see HIM (penis and all!)
Now, I’ve always had a creative streak. (A* in GCSE Art might I add!) I enjoyed the unusual. I craved emotion. I yearned for growth. I demanded rough and raw. I fed from positivity…and negativity. Happily spending ages in a confined room, I was creatively “mute”. Pulling out from my BTEC Performing Arts course, I lacked confidence, and natural talent, to get up onstage. I classed theatre out of bounds, littered with wordy detonators and “talented people”. God certainly blesses those who have good memory!
I agree Frankenstein is probably not the best powerhouse production, but it was like somebody had pushed my reset button. I can’t describe the feeling as I sat there limp in my seat. Benedict withered on the stage, bursting from a dirty sheeted womb, and then pranced around to the Underworld’s Dawn of Eden naked. Dawn of Eden rules my iPod and my future wedding plans!
It was literally the light bulb moment. Spoken with such clarity, determination and truth, Benedict restored my faith in making theatre. He stalked the stage as if it was his hunting ground. His “poshness” isn’t intimidating, but exciting. Most importantly, I was invited to bathe in the production’s glory. For the play’s duration, he welcomes you to his inner circle. Whether you’re performing or watching, theatre provides a service. Theatre has so many arrows stored within its back: to entertain, to judge, to rediscover, to challenge, to shock, to inspire (and so many more). I felt like I had ignored my purpose: to love theatre.
Since exploring theatre seriously, I’m pleased to declare I’ve exchanged my “love” for Benedict for the theatre. I’ve dropped the so-called celebrity stalking and focused upon my own creative work. Benedict has inspired me so now it’s time to use that inspiration. Recently, I am slightly worried that the “fame game” is starting to ruin my Cumberbatch theatre appreciation. I remember writing a feature for my coursework (titled “The Newly Restored Holmes”), I had the blessing to interview Lucinda Morrison, Head of National Theatre Press:
Benedict Cumberbatch, the latest changing Holmes face, was performing in a Rattigan play called After the Dance at the National Theatre, during the broadcasting of the first Sherlock series last year. Although After the Dance was already a sold out production, Lucinda Morrison, National Theatre’s Head of Press, agrees that Sherlock ‘catapulted Benedict, who was respected on stage, into the stratosphere.’ “We picked up a lot of social media particularly as this mass television audience were discovering him for the first time.” The Sherlock ‘knock on effect’ caused National Theatre’s day seat tickets to be high in demand.
It could be just me, but when an actor becomes “too big” the question mark appears. Motive? Hyped? Repetitive? Diva? Cost?
I’m not going to able to justify spending over £200 on two tickets to see Hamlet – the tickets were my birthday present! I can’t help, but feel slightly robbed, emotionally blackmailed and pure foolishness! However, it is simply my way of saying “You know what thank-you for leading me into the theatre industry, Benedict”. I wouldn’t be blogging, visiting various theatres, exploring new productions, actually working for a theatre or even writing my very first play without his guidance. So I guess Hamlet allows me to revisit my date with Frankenstein in 2011, but Benedict Cumberbatch will no longer rule my heart nor my head!