The Wickhams

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Photo credit: Jungle Theater

About the Show: 

This play, based off of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is a sequel of sorts to Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (which the Jungle performed last Christmas and I missed it and I shall never forgive myself). This new play – written by the same playwrights of Miss Bennet, Lauren Gunderson and Margo Melcon –  shows us another Pemberley Christmas, one where Lydia, Lizzie’s dream-struck sister, is separated from her husband, George Wickham (who’s bad reputation follows him wherever his very name appears) and she yearns to see him over the holidays. Meanwhile, new maid Cassie is learning the ropes from housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds while navigating a changed relationship with childhood friend Brian (who now works at Pemberley as well).

Why I Chose to See It: 

This play is a world premier and I adore the script of Miss Bennet (and heard nothing but good things about the 2017 Jungle production). Lauren Gunderson is the most produced living playwright in America and one of the best female playwrights writing today. I am a huge fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and, honestly, I will see Sun Mee Chomet (who plays Lizzie in this show) in anything and everything. Also Christina Baldwin is rapidly becoming my favorite director in the Twin Cities.

My Response:

This play is everything I wanted and more. It’s funny, it’s witty, it’s clever and proud and brave. It gives Lydia the depth and heart I always wanted her to have, it creates a new character – Cassie – who fits seamlessly into the Austen world while also having a fresh, modern perspective. Cassie is not afraid to speak her mind and she loves what she does – she feels free by being able to help run a household and take care of herself. Brian is also a wonderful sort of character – a sweet, gentle man who still makes mistakes – and learns from them. Particular moments of this show especially pack a wallop, given my personal mindset and the current events of the world around us. There’s a misunderstanding between Brian and Cassie (that I won’t delve into too much, in order to save spoilers) that Cassie calls him out on assumptions made about her rather than asking her and listening to her story. The demand that we listen to women has never felt more perfect for a story and more necessary. Lydia’s own story – with its eerie references to an abusive situation (Wickham convincing her it’s them against the world, gaslighting her and manipulating her emotions, as well as lying to her and refusing to tell the truth) – gains a darkness but also a strength as it focuses on how a romantic woman tries to navigate those who would take advantage of her and try to mold her life into what they think it should be. Ultimately it is up to Lydia to change her own life – which see eagerly accepts and shows she can thrive at. This play is especially poignant and beautiful for all the different kinds of women it portrays and the artful way it weaves their stories together.

Overall:

Go see this show – it’s instantly become one of my favorite that I’ve seen in the last year and favorite in general. It’s got the perfect balance of holiday cheer while also feeding into the need that I acutely feel of not being able to completely remove myself from the world around me and creating a story that reflects both on the past and the current world. If you loved Miss Bennet, I’m assured that you will love this as well. And even if you aren’t an Austen fan, this powerful story of women seeking freedom, falling in love, and eating a whole lot of delicious biscuits might just win you over.

General Information

The Wickhams is written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon and directed by Christina Baldwin. It is playing now through December 30th at the Jungle Theater. Ticket and show information can be found on the Jungle’s website.

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