Christmas at Pemberley saga continues with delightful Downton Abbey style intrigue

Will Mobley (George Wickham) and Jennifer Latimore (Lydia nee Bennet Wickham) in 'The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley' at NOrthlight Theatre. (Phots by Liz Lauren)
Will Mobley (George Wickham) and Jennifer Latimore (Lydia nee Bennet Wickham) in ‘The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley’ at NOrthlight Theatre. (Phots by Liz Lauren)

4 stars

Audiences move below the stairs in “The Wickams: Christmas at Pemberley,” the second part of a trilogy that started with “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.

Co-written by playwrights Lauren Gunderson (“Book of Will”) and Margot Mekon (former Marin Theatre New Play Development Director) Jane Austen fans will recognize some of the characters, their foibles and charm, as inspired by Pride & Prejudice.

Indeed, the troubles between Fitzwilliam Darcy (Luigi Scottile) and George Wickham (Will Mobley) start in the famed Austen story and reach another scandalous level in Part Two about the Bennets and the Darcys.

In a letter to her sister, Lizzy (Elizabeth Darcy played by Netta Walker), Lydia Wickham, née Bennet, portrayed by Jennifer Latimore, says she is coming to Pemberley for Christmas. Lydia’s husband, George, a gambler and unscrupulous womanizer, is not welcome at the Darcy estate.

Netta Walker (Elizabeth nee Bennet Darcy and Lugi Sottile (Fitzwilliam Darcy).
Netta Walker (Elizabeth nee Bennet Darcy and Lugi Sottile (Fitzwilliam Darcy).

The main plot revolves around George’s arrival (downstairs through a kitchen door) drunk, bloody from a fight, a letter detailing his latest, scandalous behavior that is found in his jacket when being cleaned, and his intentions.

A new character in the saga is Cassie (Aurora Real DeAsua), hired by longtime head housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds (Penny Slusher) to help get the house ready for the holidays and take care of the guests.

That sets up a subplot relationship between Cassie and Brian (Jayson Lee) a young, intelligent footman on the estate whom Cassie had known as a child.

Directed by Jessica Thebus (“The Book of Will,” the first Pemberly production and Shining Lives”), the action  seamlessly between comic and serious events.

Jayson Lee (Brian), Penny Slusher (Mrs. Reynolds) and Aurora Real de Asua (Cassie) read the letter found in Wickham's pocket
Jayson Lee (Brian), Penny Slusher (Mrs. Reynolds) and Aurora Real de Asua (Cassie) read the letter found in Wickham’s pocket

It all takes place in William Boles’ extraordinarily depicted period kitchen (and stairs).

The entire cast is terrific, the dialogue is witty and Izumi Inaba’s costumes perfectly set the period.  I’m looking forward to Part III.

The current show is a rolling world premiere commissioned and produced by Northlight Theatre with the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis, MN and the Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley, Ca.

DETAILS:  “The Wickams: Christmas at Pemberley” is at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, in the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie, through Dec. 15, 2019. Running time: 2 hours with an intermission. For tickets and other information call (847).673-6300 or visit Northlight.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

 

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