Review of Benedict Cumberbatch: In Transition

tumblr_inline_mlz3e0Pw741qz4rgpBenedict Cumberbatch – In Transition

Written by Lynnette Porter and published by MX Publishing, Benedict Cumberbatch – In Transition: An Unauthorised Performance Biography is no ordinary biography as we know it from most other celebrity biographies. The author focuses almost entirely on the career of Benedict and gives an overview of his projects, backed by numerous quotations and anecdotes.

The book begins, after a long introduction, with Benedict’s childhood and his education at Harrow, Manchester and LAMDA, and includes some very nice quotes from his mother, Wanda Ventham. We, as theater fans, are delighted that the chapter on his career in the theatre is especially extensive. Porter refers to Benedict’s first roles at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and gives a comprehensive analysis (including excerpts from interviews and reviews) on Hedda Gabler, Rhinoceros, The Arsonists and After the Dance. Frankenstein even gets a more in depth chapter. It becomes clear very easily that a lot of time and research has gone into the book.

Also some of Benedict’s roles before his breakthrough in Sherlock are discussed, in particular the films Van Gogh: Painted with Words, Inseparable and Third Star and the radio series Cabin Pressure. Further Porter highlights the “Turning Point” performances in his career, namely Hawking, Sherlock, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Frankenstein.

A brief look at Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit and The Imitation Game is also given. The weakest section of the book deals with the celebrity status, which often comes with increasing success. It discusses how success, especially after Sherlock, has changed Benedict’s life. This is also the only chapter in the book, which deals directly with his private life.

Benedict Cumberbatch – In Transition can be regarded as a sort of encyclopedia for Benedict’s works, and is for fans who want to know more about his work before Sherlock very appropriate. However, die-hard fans will already know a lot, and have read and heard some of the sources cited on several occasions. The reader is faced with a very fact-driven book (the number of footnotes is only one point of reference for this), which is very dry in tone and therefore hard to read. In addition, some of the wording and comments seem a bit awkward. We would have been pleased if some pictures were incorporated in order to get closer to the roles that are described.


Benedict Cumberbatch, In Transition is available from all good bookstores including in the USA Amazon, Barnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon, Waterstones, and for everywhere else Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery. In ebook format there is Kindle, iPad, Kobo and Nook.