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Monday, August 16, 2021

Being Mr Wickham: a review of Adrian Lukis' 1-man play, from Beth!

Beth is back this morning after having spent the night with the only and only Mr Wickham himself, Adrian Lukis! Well, sort of... I'll let her tell you about it.

I had the lovely opportunity to stream "Being Mr. Wickham" starring Adrian Lukis (who played Wickham in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice), a one-man play co-written by Adrian Lukis and Catherine Curzon. It's produced by Original Theatre Company and directed by Guy Unsworth. 
The cost is £20 and it's well worth the fee, especially if you're a fan of theatre and Pride and Prejudice. 

The gist of the play is that Wickham on his 60th birthday is reflecting on his life. As he is a charming rascal, the play has many moments of sheer cheekiness. But it also has points of somber horror and sorrow (often much more horrifying than Wickham is willing to let himself talk about).

I'm not generally a fan of one-man shows, because they can get very awkward (unintentionally), but this was warmly intimate, with a three-camera setup. Lukis plays to the camera, not the cheap seats, so the overall effect is as if Mr. Wickham has invited you into his house to share a glass of brandy and a chat.

And chat he does! Lukis plays the whole thing conversationally, with the natural ebb and flow of charismatic holding court. He makes it seem effortless, but the amount of lines he had to learn is immense. And (according to the Q&A after) apparently they were editing the script while rehearsing it!

There's a beautiful nod to the senility of aging, as he repeats himself and fixates a few times- nothing as severe as dementia, but the wandering attention and focus that aging brings, as well as the wisdom and the grief at losing one's vigor. The end has something of hope in it, which hit hard in this age of COVID-19. 

There's also an element of unreliable narrator, as this is Wickham reflecting on his own life (and don't we lionize our own life?), which further draws you into the setting. Are you being taken in, as Lizzie was? Or is he merely a flawed man who never quite grew up?

He mentions most of the major players from Pride and Prejudice, as well as historic figures (Byron, Brummel, etc.) in a way that's respectful to the source material while also being believable and entertaining. This intimate chat with Wickham feels incredibly true to Austen's original writing, in style and in humor (unsurprising, as Lukis has also authored a play about Jane Austen and done much research into her life). The language, as much as set dressing and costuming, is immersive and true- without distancing the audience from the actor.

Honestly, watching theatre, especially in such an intimate way and after so long without it, was lovely. I'd recommend re-reading or re-watching Pride and Prejudice, and then streaming this play. 

About the author of this post: I'm Beth: a bookwyrm, history geek, hobby baker, Austen fan, and collector of pastimes. Henry Tilney and Elizabeth Bennet are my Austen fictional crushes, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about me. I can be found blogging at https://bethwyrm.blogspot.com/ and creating general nonsense at: https://www.instagram.com/goddessbeth/https://www.tiktok.com/@artemishi, and https://twitter.com/ArtemisHi.
Find more posts from Beth here
Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
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  1. This would be so intriguing. I vaguely remember some of Catherine Curzon's tweets about it and then forgot. Thanks for the summary, Beth!

  2. I keep seeing this advertised on my Facebook feed. It's so useful to have this feedback, maybe I should give it a go.

    1. I recommend it! I was hesitant at first, too, but really enjoyed it...and am still thinking about it!

  3. On my must see list and now it’s definitely moved up. Thanks for the good review!

    1. You're very welcome! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


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