Benedict Cumberbatch has blown away the critics after a ‘magnificent, power-house performance’ at the Brent Cross Hendon Way Tesco Superstore in Cricklewood last night. The Sherlock star, already receiving plaudits for his role as Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre, was praised for his thirty-five minute ‘tour-de-force’, in which he grappled with the gritty role of ‘Man Shopping in Tesco’.
‘His was a multifaceted performance,’ wrote The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish. ‘On the surface an ordinary man browsing the magazine section, but with shades of the Danish Prince as he struggled to choose between The Angling Times and Fly Fishing Illustrated – his portrayal of the inner conflict lifting to a crescendo after taking a sly glance at FHM’s Lucy Pinder on the top shelf.’
‘I always knew he had it in him,’ said Sherlock co-star Mark Gatiss. ‘Nobody else can accidentally knock over a box of Shredded Wheat with such intensity and put it back, seemingly at random, with the Frosties – the symbolism really takes one’s breath away. Anyone in that packed audience can be honoured to have witnessed an historic moment in the history of theatre – made even more memorable by a really good BOGOF deal on Lynx deodorants – Africa, Excite and Lynx Sensitive.’
Michael Billington of The Guardian was equally impressed, giving Cumberbatch full marks for his efforts: ‘The arrogant, self-assured Cavalry officer from War Horse was convincingly metamorphosed into some bloke wandering the dairy aisle,’ he wrote, praising the actor for taking the role into ‘unexpected corners of the Human psyche.’
He continued: ‘In a poignant scene, Cumberbatch’s character is confronted by an elderly lady blocking the yoghurt section, looking at the use-by dates on some Muller Light multi-packs. Lesser performers would have merely tutted, or boorishly tried to edge in, but Cumberbatch confounded all expectations by wandering off to get some cottage cheese, before returning to the now vacant spot a minute later to extract a carton of Yakult. You could have heard a pin drop.’
However not everyone was so enchanted by the Imitation Game Oscar Nominee. The Independent’s Paul Taylor called it a ‘rather mixed affair’ in his three-star review: ‘Make no mistake – Cumberbatch’s Tesco Shopper marks him out as Britain’s leading theatrical light, but where his enigmatic persona dazzled as his fungal foot powder was run through the till, and his stuffing of the petrol vouchers into his wallet brought tears to the eye, a lacklustre car-parking scene put something of a tarnish on the brilliance.
‘Taking the last parent-and-child space and making me walk an extra ten metres? Come on Benedict, you’re better than that’, he added.