BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

19/06/2014 - 28/06/2014

Playhouse Theatre, Dunedin

12/03/2015 - 14/03/2015

Dunedin Fringe 2015

Production Details

“Dearest Benedict, 

I dreamt of you again last night. I stood on a stage covered in blood. Your blood. I gazed into the audience and you looked back. You touched me with your look. 

Now, I know what I must do.

Yours adoringly,

From the award winning comedy collective that brought you What is this, Woman’s Hour? in the NZ Fringe comes a brand new show, born from pent up obsession and too much spare time.

See both Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die and Taking Off The Bird Suit for just $25. Email to make your booking.

$10 student special on Friday 20th June! Book via or arrive at the Box Office on the night with your student ID.

Bats Theatre (Out of Site), cnr Cuba & Dixon Streets
Thurs 19 – Sat 28 June, 8pm
(No show Sun or Mon)


The show debuted at Wellington’s BATS Theatre in 2014 with a highly successful sell-out season.
“laugh-out-loud…highly entertaining character-based comedy” (Theatreview)
“The audience roared its approval throughout” (Dominion Post)   

PLAYHOUSE THEATRE, 31 Albany St, Dunedin
Thu 12 Mar – Sat 14 Mar
All Ages
Price:  $12.00 – $16.00  
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Theatre , Sketch , Comedy ,


Erratic journey to highly amusing places

Review by Reuben Hilder 13th Mar 2015

Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die tells the story of three bizarre and very different misfits meeting face to face for the first time after being united online through their shared passionate, obsession with Benedict Cumberbatch. Written by Abby Howells and directed by Alex Wilson, the play relies on the social awkwardness of its characters and the extreme, sometimes disconcerting level of their obsession for most of its comedy.

Howells and her fellow actresses Caitlin McNaughton and Kate Schrader each bring something very unique to the table: McNaughton as the egocentric and control-obsessed Clarissa, Schrader as the sex-crazed Tamara and Howells giving the stand-out performance as the timid yet delightfully dark Genevieve.

The group as a whole works well together, playing off the personality clashes of their characters to great effect. They do however occasionally allow their pacing to become rushed which detracts from the humour of some well-scripted comedic moments.

In addition, the awkwardness of the characters is sometimes allowed to make them difficult to relate to. However, when the characters start acting themselves in order to bring each other’s Cumberbatch-related fantasies to life, they are far less inhibited and these scenes become engaging and energetic. This, coupled with some clever staging choices, make the fantasy-enactment scenes into the highlights of the piece both comically, and dramatically.

On the whole, Howells’ charming, offbeat script makes for an entertaining hour of comedy that highlights the pitfalls of excessive fandom without ever bogging itself down by taking itself too seriously, even in its more sinister moments.

Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die takes its audience on an erratic journey through some peculiar but highly amusing places in the human mind before bringing them back with a satisfying, if slightly predictable conclusion. If you’re looking for a comedy that manages to be dark without ever losing its air of light-hearted playfulness, look no further.


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A batch of laughs

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 24th Jun 2014

It must have been difficult to have been a devoted fan in the days before the internet. How did the fans of Sinatra, Elvis, and all the others manage to keep up with what was happening in the lives of their idols? 

There was a crisis on Tumblr the other day when it was announced that heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch has a girlfriend.

The announcement of this gossip began with “Quick! Gather up all the Cumberbitches (the name used by his devoted fans), drop them in California and tell them again that the husband in their head has a new piece so they can cry their weight out in Cumberbitch tears and the drought will be over!”

Abby Howells’ entertaining hour-long comedy begins before Sherlock was supposedly attached to some “new piece”. In fact he might even appear at Bats as a front row seat is reserved for him to attend the inaugural meeting of the Wellington branch of the N.Z. Cumberbatch People (bitches was dropped because the term might offend).

Rather confusingly the meeting actually takes place in Clarissa’s shrine-like bedroom. Only two fans turn up to Clarissa’s meeting but they are no less devoted to their idol and are prepared to be bossed around by Clarissa, who has insists they sit a quiz to see how devout they are.

Then she reveals that he is actually coming to Wellington. He must be entertained and a show in his honour must be created. We watch their attempts at show biz as Genevieve and Tamara squabble, dream the impossible and reveal their innermost desires as Clarissa tries to keep things under control and going her way.

But then reality sets in and they realise that he won’t be coming and some foreign Cumberbitch will get to him and therefore he must die. Their methods for getting rid of him are hilarious.

Caitlin McNaughton (Clarissa), Abby Howells (Genevieve) and Kate Schrader (Tamara) are a good comedy team and they keep this light-as-a- feather farce floating in the air with consistent characterisations and good humour. The audience roared its approval throughout.


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Highly entertaining with a dark dimension of psychological insight

Review by John Smythe 20th Jun 2014

Clarissa (Caitlin McNaughton), an actress and control-freak, is the founder and self-appointed president of an online Benedict Cumberbatch fan site. When she calls the first ever face-to-face meeting of The Cumberbitches, only two turn up to her bedsit-cum-shrine to the versatile velvet-voiced actor.

Tamara (Kate Schrader) is obsessed with the idea of ‘doing it’ with Ben and has a habit and/or fear of losing control of her bodily functions when over-excited. Genevieve (Abbey Howells), who lives an insular life at home with her mum and is borderline Asperger’s, socialises – or rather observes – on Facebook rather than in reality.

This is comedy collective Discharge’s first long-form play, following their popular success with the sketch show What Is This, Woman’s Hour? in Dunedin then Wellington (where these three now reside). They also have stand-up comedy and improv in their CVs, and all these skills come to the fore. 

Abby Howells’ script – co-directed by Caitlin McNaughton and Alex Wilson (Kate Schrader is the publicist) – is well structured dramatically to reveal greater depths to the characters and bring about change in each of them and their inter-relatedness.

Motivated by some special news Clarissa has to reveal, the trio share their first encounters with Benedict and their most and least favourite moment is his movies and the Sherlock series, brainstorm a strategy for meeting him, exchange a monologue (Clarissa), fanfiction (Genevieve) and an erotic story (Tamara), then devise a trilogy of scenarios based on their hitherto secret fantasies.  

Happily Genevieve and Tamara take to improv like pros (Clarissa already has the skill), allowing the fantasies to play out fluently. All three get to don the long dark dressing gown and play Benedict And all of it produces a great deal of laugh-out-loud comedy.

Intriguingly McNaughton is more convincing in the make-believe scenarios than she is as Clarissa herself, whose control-freak persona is initially two-dimensional. Schrader pitches her obsessive persona to great comic effect and Howells nails the almost clown-like naivety of Genevieve with a beautifully timed performance.

It all builds up to what gives the play its title and I’ll leave you to guess who comes up with it as a solution to their problem. Suffice to say this adds a dark dimension of psychological insight to a highly entertaining character-based comedy.


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