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Being Mr Wickham review (Jermyn Street Theatre)

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Pride and Prejudice’s flirtatious figure George Wickham is the subject of Original Theatre’s latest in person piece of theatre. Open at Jermyn Street Theatre in London’s St James’s quarter until 22nd June, ‘Being Mr Wickham’ is an intimate 60-minute play, with the character finally able to tell his own story, away from the constraints of the original novel. The play is written by Adrian Lukis, who played Wickham in the BBC’s 1995 TV adaptation at age 38. The actor and writer has had the opportunity to revisit the role on stage over the past couple of years, through an off-Broadway run in 2023 and now for 2024, a London run at the intimate studio theatre in Piccadilly Circus. Despite having little experience of Austen’s work, I adore period theatre and was excited to find out if there could be more redeeming qualities to such a roguish character.

Being Mr Wickham poster outside Jermyn Street Theatre, London

A maturer Mr Wickham

Focusing on a 60-year old version of Mr Wickham many years after we meet him in Austen’s original text, you can’t help but feel like this is a really personal play, with Lukis having grown up with the character. It is deeply reflective, with Mr Wickham looking back on his life through a mature lens, appearing far wiser now. Even though the years have aged the character, you never lose sight of his mischievous traits and devilish charm. Perhaps parallels can be drawn between the character and the writer’s own experience of ageing, highlighting a life well lived so far.

A reflective evening with the renowned character

Lukis is a natural at drawing the audience in, utilising animated body language to make you hold onto every last word. I found myself deeply engaged by the storytelling, influenced by his cleverly timed pauses and memorable facial expressions that match the cheekiness of Wickham. The captivating performer carries this exquisite one-person play, transporting audiences to the Victorian period and the aftermath of the novel. Director Guy Unsworth has clearly brought out the best in Lukis, encouraging him to truly ‘become’ the older and wider Mr Wickham.

Adrian Lukis in Being Mr Wickham
© James Findlay

One-person format

The one-person format largely works, with Libby Watson’s intricate period staging surrounding Wickham whilst he briefs the audience on his life story, marital bliss and his conflict with Darcy. Mirrors have been used to present the character from different angles, elegantly exacerbating the idea that this is a reflective piece. The only thing I found is that the material requires a certain amount of imagination, particularly around his proximity to wife Lydia on this particular evening and the excitement of the events at the neighbour’s opposite. Whilst Lukis provides brilliant energy in explaining what is happening outside the confines of this little room, it is a little difficult to visualise.

Set and lighting design

Aside from Lukis’ spectacular performance, the set and lighting design were my favourite elements of the production. There has clearly been lots of attention to detail in showcasing the time period through the props and historic aspects of Libby Watson’s set, from the carafe of wine to Wickham’s chair. Johanna Town’s lighting design dresses the room in a variety of warm to cool tones, matching the ambience of the topics featured perfectly. The timing of the lighting changes is admirable, gently moving the visuals on as Lukis speaks.

Being Mr Wickham programme at Jermyn Street Theatre, London

An intimate, period triumph just footsteps from Piccadilly Circus

‘Being Mr Wickham’ is a brilliant character study of the supporting character in Austen’s book, providing a voice for the rake beyond the pages of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. The play is based at the 70-seat Jermyn Street Theatre in London’s West End until Saturday 22nd June, with tickets available via the theatre’s website. If you can’t make it to London in time to see the show, the production is also available via Original Theatre’s online streaming service. Subscriptions start from £8.99 per month or you can rent this particular production for £7.99 (includes 48 hours of access).

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx

*My ticket for Being Mr Wickham was gifted in exchange for an unbiased review.



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