Being Mr Wickham

Reviewer's Rating

Mr Wickham is a big part of the Darcy-Lizzie love story, having had charmed Elizabeth which consequently aided her disdain for Darcy. Ultimately, the truth is revealed, and he is exposed as the real villain – soon after eloping with her sister, Lydia Bennet, as he once tried with the young Georgiana Darcy.

In this revival of Wickham’s story, Adrian Lukis takes centre stage in a one-hour monologue, detailing his past and present. With many references to the original novel, it becomes a nostalgic take on a beloved story – with updates on the Bennet sisters as well as Darcy and Lizzie themselves. Wickham is still married to Lydia, albeit surprising, but they both are “brash, boorish and vain” so perhaps it was a perfect match.

Coming from the 1995 BBC TV series of Pride and Prejudice, Adrian Lukis, has written and starred as his original character: George Wickham. Once again, he brings a humorous charm and mischievous grin to the audience, drinking red wine and reminiscing about his past in Pemberley. Unsurprisingly, he refers to his long-standing feud with Fitzwilliam Darcy whilst referring fondly to his father Mr Darcy, who took him in when his own father died. Wickham remains as egotistical as ever, talking highly of himself: “it was me they loved”.

An interesting but inevitable development in Wickham’s story is his old age. “When play stops, old age begins”, and it really has. Reminiscing of the past in a pitiful way, the play makes interesting commentaries on aging and death as Wickham gazes longingly at the young neighbours across the street. A moment of tears, the audience is truly made to feel sorry for Wickham. With age, he has become wise and introspective – yet still with a childish temperament. This is to be expected and is a realistic depiction of life, as one credibly cannot be a malignant person his entire life and thus this play shows the real man underneath.

 To put it perfectly: “Am I to cast myself as a villain of my own story?”

A slight quibble would be certain details added to the plot, although understandably a detailed history of Wickham is not in Pride and Prejudice, they do seem unbelievable and are brushed over. Details of childhood sexual assault or murder, as an example, are briefly mentioned then passed over. This can be rather bewildering to an audience, and perhaps slightly unnecessary. Maybe pity points could’ve been scored another way, in the aid to humanise the character more.

Overall, a pleasant performance, done with grace and decorum – as to be expected for the time. The venue is intimate, the drawing room set is credible and production value was high.

Starring: Adrian Lukis

Writer: Adrian Lukis

Director: Guy Unsworth

Designer: Libby Watson

Lighting Designer: Johanna Town

Sound Designer: Max Pappenheim

Venue: Jermyn Street Theatre

Until Saturday 22nd June

Running time: 60 mins (no interval)

Review by Sofia Moran