The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley a must see world premiere at MTC

 

Mrs. Reynolds (Jennie Brick) patches up an injured George Wickham (Kenny Toll) Photo by Ken Berne

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley: Comedy by Lauren Gunderson & Margot Melcon. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA. 415-388-5208 or www.marintheatre.org

November 15- December 16, 2018.  Rating: ★★★★★

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley a must see world premiere at MTC.

Once again the Marin Theatre Company has come up with a regency play adapted by Lauren Gunderson & Margot Melcon from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” In 2016 it was Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly that fulfilled all the criteria for being a perfect production. This year the accolades are heaped on their latest winner The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberly. Unfortunately Callie  Floor’s magnificent 18 century costumes are not to be seen since the  action of the play takes place in the kitchen of the mansion at the same time as their first play with a much different perspective.

There is a short prolog where the characters briefly introduce themselves.  Mr. Darcy this time played by David Everett Moore, Elizabeth Darcy by Melissa Ortiz and Lydia Wickham by Madeline Rouverol.  The downstairs staff busily works keeping things running smoothly. The star of the evening is Jennie Brick playing the firm but loveable housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds. She is being ably assisted by the footman Brian (August Browning) and Cassie (Neiry Rojo) a temporary help from the village.

Mrs. Reynolds recognizes that Brian, who recommended Cassie for the position, has more than a friendship issue with her. Cassie, on the other hand is fully aware that women become second class to the men who “own” them after marriage. Hers is a platonic but friendly attachment to Brian.

Cassie (Neiry Rojo) and Brian (August Browning) transport Lizzie’s Christmas tree upstairs. Photo by Ken Berne.

While preparations for the holiday continue, a Christmas tree that played a significant role in the Miss Bennet play is brought through the kitchen and up the stairs. Into this cheerful, busy atmosphere stumbles a besotted and bruised George Wickham who is personae non grata with former friend Mr. Darcy and separated from wife Lydia. A secret letter is discovered in Wickham’s’ clothing that was being cleaned and repaired by Cassie. This letter holds a secret that unfolds with chaos in the second act.

The downstairs staff’s attempt to keep Wickham hidden is unsuccessful when Lydia comes down to seek a taste of Mrs. Reynold’s biscuit-cookies.  He attempts to win back Lydia with a promise of reforming and starting a new life in Paris. Before that can happen he insists that Lydia seek money from her father to finance the move to Paris. Violence erupts when Mr. Darcy reads the secret letter and he sees Wickham. When Lydia reads the contents of the letter she knows that Paris is but a dream. Darcy knows that the letter will also be grounds for a legal separation of Lydia from Wickham possibly without loss of her wealth.

Each member of the cast give superlative performances and the authors weave their feminist’s motif into the story both by words, innuendo and action of the females. All this marvelous play is superbly aided by the wonderfully realized downstairs kitchen by scenic designer Wilson Chin that takes up the entire stage.

Director Megan Sandberg-Zakian keeps the play on an even keel allowing the pace to ebb and flow not allowing any factor to take precedence. It is a tribute to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” This audience pleasing play The Wickham’s: Christmas at Pemberly runs about one hour and 40 minutes with an intermission.

CAST: Neiry Rojo as Cassie; Jennie Brick as Mrs. Reynolds; Melissa Ortiz as Elizabeth Darcy; Madeline Rouveral as Lydia Wickham; August Browning as Brian; David Everett Moore as Fitzwilliam Darcy; and Kenny Toll as George Wickham.

CREATIVE TEAM: Director Megan Sandberg-Zakian;  Scenic Designer, Wilson Chin; Costume Designer, Courtney Flores; Lighting Designer,Wen-Ling Liao; Sound Designer, Sharath Patel; Properties Artisans, Liam Ruddisil, Rachel Hurado; Dialect Coach, Jessica Berman; Assistant Director, Olivia Dillon; Assistant, Lighting Designer, Danny Osburn.

Kedar K. Adour MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.

 

Mrs. Reynolds (Jennie Brick) patches up an injured George Wickham (Kenny Toll)

Cassie (Neiry Rojo) and Brian (August Browning) transport Lizzie’s Christmas tree upstairs.