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Three go mad on Benedict in comedy at PumpHouse

Flagstaff Team

Director’s chair… Christine Ball in the hot seat at rehearsal for Shoreside Theatre

An intriguing comedy playing on the impacts of celebrity obsession among a trio of young women is providing a welcome opportunity for new North Shore talent to shine.
Three actors and first-time director Christine Ball are relishing the opportunities presented by Shoreside Theatre’s Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die at the PumpHouse this month.
They are looking forward to bringing to audiences a fun production which includes improvisation.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing it all come to life,” says Ball of wrangling rehearsals and gaining confidence as she goes.
Cast members Kasia Jarecki, aged 25, Mackenzie Carkeek, 19, and Alice Dibble, 17, “bring so much energy” to their performances, she says.
Written by New Zealand writer and comedian Abby Howells, the play tells the story of three fangirls who follow and comment online about British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. When they hear Cumberbatch is coming to New Zealand, they decide to get together IRL (in real life) to concoct a plan to try to meet him.
The scheme is to write a play called Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die in the hope of luring him along to see it.
As they devise the show, they begin to clash, though Ball gives little away about the outcome. “The ending is up to everyone’s individual interpretation,” she says.
The 25-year-old promises there will be plenty to intrigue fans of Cumberbatch and Sherlock, in which he starred, but also to fans of other stars. “It will appeal to a younger audience… people who are part of that fandom of their own celebrities in that group setting of their own on social media.”
IRL, Cumberbatch has quite the following of obsessed fans, with those in the UK known as Cumberbitches.

Smitten trio… Actors (from left) Kasia Jarecki, Mackenzie Carkeek and Alice Dibble play fans who concoct a plan to meet British actor Benedict Cumberbatch

Ball says she was intrigued by the script, which helped convince her to get outside her comfort zone and try directing. “It’s very exciting and scary,” she says.
She has been acting since she was nine years old, including in Shoreside’s Shakespeare and Agatha Christie seasons last year.
When she saw the company’s latest one-act play programme – designed to encourage talent development and experimental works – she thought she would give directing a go.
Drawing on her acting experience, she had an idea of what was needed, but visualising a whole show proved a challenge. “When you’re the director everyone is looking at you and asking you things.”
With the help of the play’s production manager and a collaborative cast she has developed her own voice. “At first I was like, ‘Okay guys, we’re just going to try this’, but now I’m much more confident at saying what I want.”
Like the show’s cast she still remains keen on building her acting CV.
Celebrity on a Cumberbatch scale may come to only a few, but Ball is enjoying the ride of exploring on stage how chasing it can change lives.
“It’s comedic, a bit bonkers,” she says.

  • Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die, at the PumpHouse Coal Bunker until 21 April. Tickets at Pumphouse.co.nz

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