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Being Mr Wickham at Jermyn Street Theatre | Review

Over the last few years I have seen many “one person” plays and have no hesitation at all in saying that Being Mr Wickham is one of the very best!

Adrian Lukis in Being Mr Wickham. Photo credit: James Findlay
Adrian Lukis in Being Mr Wickham. Photo credit: James Findlay

Adrian Lukis, who not only wrote the play but also plays Wickham, asks, having reach the magic age of 60: “What (is) left, apart from a few declining years of grumbling, blankets and cocoa“?  So, having played the character in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice twenty-two years ago, he thought he would imagine what might have happened to the character once he also reached 60. The result is quite magical! It is beautifully written in a similar style to the novel itself, self-effacing, witty, often laugh-out-loud funny, whilst at times, for example when discussing the Battle of Waterloo, quite poignant. We discover what life was like in his Dartmoor boarding school to which he was sent when he was seven years old, his marriage to Lydia and various affairs – both his and hers – as well as his relationship with ‘Mr Darcy’!  Scenes meld effortlessly into each other as he regales us with his thoughts of a misspent life. Director Guy Unsworth has ensured that there is light, shade and energy in the piece and moments where the play can relax before plunging Wickham and us into the next adventure.

Lukis is Wickham: totally believable, completely re-living the role of the delightful rogue! He has a very mobile face which often appears to take us individually into his confidence as he tells us a “secret” and he also uses his hands to great effect to amplify his thoughts – he has that rare quality: charisma, especially in such an intimate space as Jermyn Street Theatre. Perhaps the best thing about the show is that it is exactly the right length: 60 minutes.  So many one-person plays ramble on so that you find yourself looking at your watch in the dark, wondering when you can escape. Being Mr Wickham leaves you wanting more. It is so involving that time flies by.

Libby Watson’s designs give an elegance to the proceedings, Johanna Town’s lighting is very effective and Max Pappenheim’s sound underscoring is much more subtle and atmospheric than I have encountered recently elsewhere.

I have not seen, let alone read, Pride and Prejudice for many years and found Adrian Lukis’ Being Mr Wickham a real treat! Highly recommended!

5 Star Rating

Review by John Groves

Written and performed by Adrian Lukis
Directed by Guy Unsworth

Mr Wickham is ready to set the record straight. Join Pride and Prejudice’s most roguish gentleman, George Wickham, on the eve of his sixtieth birthday, to lift the sheets on what exactly happened thirty years on from where we left him… And discover his own version of some very famous literary events. What really happened with Darcy? What did he feel about Lizzie? What happened at Waterloo? Not to mention Byron…

BEING MR WICKHAM
Jermyn Street Theatre
5 to 22 June 2024

Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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