The Wickhams: Christmas At Pemberley Play Review – A Delightful Theater Holiday Gift

Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, presents the World Premiere of The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon and directed by Jessica Thebus. From the authors of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley comes a charming new companion piece! 

Netta Walker (Elizabeth Darcy) and Sottile (Fitzwilliam Darcy)

While the Bennets and Darcys are celebrating upstairs, the servants below the stairs find themselves in the midst of a holiday scandal. Lydia’s ne’er-do-well husband Mr. Wickham has arrived, and it’s up to the loyal housekeeper, footman, and new maid to keep the festivities running smoothly without revealing the unwelcome guest. As old misunderstandings and new secrets start to spiral out of control, the residents of Pemberley prove that family, forgiveness, and the true spirit of giving always win the day.   

Penny Slusher (Mrs. Reynolds)

The cast includes Jennifer Latimore (Lydia Wickham), Jayson Lee (Brian), Will Mobley (George Wickham), Aurora Real De Asua (Cassie), Penny Slusher (Mrs. Reynolds), Luigi Sottile (Fitzwilliam Darcy) and Netta Walker (Elizabeth Darcy).  

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley was an utter delight to watch. It is the most fun I have had in the theater so far this year. If you are a fan of Jane Austen novels, especially Pride and Prejudice, then you will definitely enjoy this well done production. It is a holiday spinoff, a fan fiction sequel that imagines how two years after the novel ends. The plot intertwines with the story of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, and also coincides with the main premise of the hit BBC series, Downtown Abbey, which focuses on the events of those living downstairs in the servant’s quarters, while the events of Miss Bennets all take place upstairs in the main part of the house.

Jayson Lee (Brian), Penny Slusher (Mrs. Reynolds), Aurora Real De Asua (Cassie)

The entire cast displayed impressive acting skills and great accents; each character was perfectly cast to match a very clever script. Elizabeth Darcy (Netta Walker) is the beloved, lovely heroine who is now married to Mr. Darcy (Luigi Sottile) and mistress of the Pemberley household. The happy couple invite family over for Christmas, including her younger, naive sister, Lydia (Jennifer Latimore), who is frustrated and sad that she cannot spend Christmas with her new husband, Wickham (Will Mobey), who is constantly out traveling and working. Wickham is in reality a scoundrel who is not welcome at Pemberley due to his betrayal of Darcy. (He grew up with Mr. Darcy as the son of the family’s steward). Wickham sneaks into the Pemberley mansion to see Lydia, where everyone in the household – especially the servants in the downstairs kitchen, do whatever it takes to keep Wickham’s visit a secret and hide him from Darcy. Mobey’s portrayal as Wickham was both malicious but comic at the same time.

Will Mobley (George Wickham), Jennifer Latimore (Lydia Wickham)

The servants down in the basement, Jayson Lee (Brian), Aurora Real De Asua (Cassie) and Penny Slusher (Mrs. Reynolds), all gave wonderful, endearing portrayals as the household servants from downstairs. Slusher as Mrs. Reynolds instantly made me picture her as the twin sister of Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey, while Real de Asua as Cassie, played a strong, young woman trying to prove herself in the world. Jayson Lee as Brian, a servant who grew up on the Darcy estate, is adorable while he tinkers with his inventions and starts to develop feelings for Cassie.   

Jennifer Latimore (Lydia Wickham), Penny Slusher (Mrs. Reynolds), Will Mobley (George Wickham)

The costumes, stage design and lighting were all impressive, as was the staging. The entire play takes place in the Pemberley mansion’s downstairs kitchen where the servants work. The characters take turns coming up and down the stairs, including the elite, who are constantly sneaking down there to snack on Mrs. Reynold’s delicious biscuits.

Will Mobley (George Wickham) and Luigi Sottile (Fitzwilliam Darcy)

The play was almost perfect-the one minor flaw that I can think of is that the storyline at times felt unrealistic (inaccurate costumes, etc), and also not like Jane Austin’s well-known writing style. Also, it would have been intriguing to learn more about Wickham’s true character, his background, and how he came to be the scoundrel everyone knows him as (except for Lydia), and why exactly she fell in love with and married him, if you did not see the previous play.

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley was a delightful treat and perfect for the holidays. It is extended through December 22-do not miss it!

*Photos courtesy of Northlighttheater.org

Curtain times are: Tuesdays: 7:30pm (November 12 & 26 only); Wednesdays: 1:00pm and 7:30pm; Thursdays: 7:30pm (except November 28); Fridays: 8:00pm; Saturdays: 2:30pm (except November 9); and 8:00pm; and Sundays: 2:30pm; and 7:00pm (November 10 and December 1 only).

An Open Captioning performance will be held on Saturday, December 7 at 2:30pm. 

Dates:   Previews: November 7 – 14, 2019; Regular run: November 16 – December 15, 2019; Extension: December 19 – 22, 2019

Schedule:       

Tuesdays: 7:30pm (November 12 & 26 only

Wednesdays: 1:00pm and 7:30pm

Thursdays: 7:30pm (except November 28)

Fridays: 8:00pm

Saturdays: 2:30pm (except November 9); and 8:00pm

Sundays: 2:30pm; and 7:00pm (November 10 and December 1

An Open Captioning performance will be held on Saturday, December 7 at 2:30pm.

Location:  Northlight Theatre is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie

Tickets:  $30-$89; Student tickets are $15, any performance (subject to availability)

Box Office:  The Box Office is located at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie; 847.673.6300; or visit the website.

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