5 minutes with... ADRIAN LUKIS

Being Mr Wickham, October 8-9 at, Theatr Clwyd

Adrian Lukis, who starred in the renowned BBC TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, stars as the most roguish gentleman, George Wickham. The show "lifts the sheets" on what happened 30 years on from where we left him. We sat down with Adrian Lucas, co writer and performer of the show, to find out more.

What inspired you to revisit the character of Mr Wickham, 25 years after playing him in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice?

When I turned 60 a few years ago, I started to wonder what it would be like for a man such as Wickham, who has been a rake and a ne'er-do-well, surviving on his looks and his wits, to have to deal with getting older.

So, I started to look at it with Catherine Curzon, an expert on the historical side of things, and read everything about Wickham and Pride and Prejudice I could get hold of.

I found myself discovering how much I enjoyed the process of researching and writing. Once I started it just went like a storm.

He's portrayed by Jane Austen as such a rogue, did you feel it was important to fight his corner?

Absolutely. People don't tend to see themselves through a bad lens, and there are always two sides to a story.

He is always described as being charming and amiable, rather than someone who's constantly plotting and twirling his moustache.

He admits he does some bad things, but turns it on the audience and asks 'have you led a blameless life'?

Also, he makes the point that life would be very dull without any rogues. I'd much rather spend an evening with him than with Darcy!

Adrian Lukis in Being Mr Wickham at Theatr Clwyd. Photo: James Findlay

Adrian Lukis in Being Mr Wickham at Theatr Clwyd. Photo: James Findlay

Original Theatre Company filmed the production in an empty theatre during lockdown for a live stream. How did you find that experience?

It was certainly interesting, but it was inevitably a bit cold just being surrounded by cameras and technicians.

There is no replacement for a live audience, being able to look at them and say, 'you think you know my story but I'm going to tell you differently'.

I like to try and bring what I can of Wickham's wit and charm to the table, and a lot of that has to do with looking the audience directly in the eye, which of course you can't do in a live stream.

You've clearly enjoyed the task of reimagining Wickham for the stage, but what do you think Jane Austen might make of it?

That depends on how you view her politics. She has been called all sorts of things, from a radical feminist to a staunch methodist.

But I think it's safer to assume she was something of a small 'c' conservative. So she probably would have disapproved of Wickham, and seen him as being a rather weak and vapid young man.

But I hope if she was to see this production, she would say 'good for you, you haven't consigned him to the scrapheap and have found mitigating factors for his behaviour'.

Being Mr Wickham is at Theatr Clwyd from October 8-9. Tickets at £16 are available at theatrclwyd.com or the box office on 01352 344101.