Adrian Lukis being Mr Wickham. Picture: James Findlay

Being Mr Wickham

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


Adrian Lukis, who played George Wickham in the popular 1995 BBC series based on Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, recreates the role in his one-man show, bringing us up to his 60th birthday, still married to a demanding Lydia Bennet with two amazingly splendid children to their name.

Lukis, who co wrote the piece with Catherine Curzon, makes him the hero of his own story and it works beautifully. Careful research based around the time Jane Austen wrote her most popular book (in around 1805) make this a really rewarding show.

I wasn’t expecting it to be funny, but it is. It’s also really charming and beautifully written. I thought he would go down the victim not villain route but, though he makes the point that integrity is expensive, he makes Wickham justifiable as a hedonist with a charmed life who made his choices simply on the need to survive.

He admits quite candidly that he’s been no angel and nor has Lydia. She’s brash, boorish and vain… and so am I, he says. I loved his advice, ‘lie if you must, always know your escape and never pay the bill’!

My favourite part is where he retells his meeting with Harriet Wilson, courtesan to the stars, but gets pipped to the prize by none other than Lord Byron! I liked too that he was curtain-twitching an elopement over the road and rejoices that the young lovers get away unnoticed.

The big question with Jane Austen is always why so few men read her and so few take her seriously. The audience was largely female. In the question and answer session that closed the show, the final comment from a chap at the front was telling; he admitted he’d never read the book, but would.

 I’ve always had a sneaky regard for a good villain and Wickham is that. Adrian Lukis concludes with the comment, ‘Here’s to us rascals, there’s no story without us’. Directed by Ben Unsworth, Mr Wickham will be entertaining unto 02-10-21.

Jane Howard


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