Festival of Chichester: What happened to Pride and Prejudice's "naughty sister"?

So what happened to Lydia, the “naughty sister” in Pride and Prejudice?

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 7:05 am
Greg Mosse
Greg Mosse

Find out in a series of rehearsed readings of a new play staged as part of this year’s Festival of Chichester

Lydia & George: The Further Adventures of Elizabeth Bennet’s Scandalous Sister has been written by Lucy Flannery and Chichester’s Greg Mosse.

“I devised this idea for a follow-on, 20 years after Pride and Prejudice, because I thought Lydia, the naughtier sister, is such an interesting character,” Greg said. “20 years later and we are in the 1830s, just before the Victorian lockdown of prudish morals.

“At the end of Pride and Prejudice, Lydia and her soldier-seducer husband George are sent away as far away as Darcy can find, and I imagine that Lydia has become an actress and George has become a faintly plausible impresario. Darcy had bought him a commission in the regular army just to get rid of them. There is a chapter at the end of Pride and Prejudice which is essentially what happens next for the characters, and the way it does that is one of the main mysteries of the story that I like.

“Because I am a big fan of writing in collaboration, I got in touch with Lucy Flannery who is a very excellent and sophisticated playwright with whom I wrote Poisoned Beds about the death of the oyster industry in Emsworth.

“I asked would she like to write this one with me. I gave her the outline of the story and she wrote the first draft and then I wrote the second draft and she updated that to the third draft, and then we got some excellent professional actors to read it aloud, after which we worked together on the amendments.

“We never sat at adjacent keyboards. You need a single editorial consciousness and then pass it on. We don’t give each other notes. We just say ‘OK’ and work on the next draft.

“It works because we have got similar writing personalities. We are both aiming for a dynamic, entertaining, forward-moving, chronological story. We are not focusing on themes and ideas. We expect the themes and ideas to emerge. We are always story first, and that’s how it happens for us.

“We completed it close to the first lockdown and then we had the gap between first and second lockdowns and we had the reading with a group of actors together in the same room when it was legal to do so.

“And now we have refined it further.”

And now it is being presented as a rehearsed reading with three different sets of actors, each set of actors local to the place where the play is being offered.

“It will be very much rehearsed.

“How much will depend on each company and how much time they have put into it. But it means that if someone gets something wrong, they can just take it again or they might say ‘I should have been angrier there’ and they will say the line again. What is special is that the audience gets to see very much these actors feeling their way. It will be like a little hint into the process.

“They will be script in hand and it will be a completely fluent dramatic performance, but it will depend on the different companies how they play it. If there is a long scene between two characters then sometimes the directors might like to bring those two characters forward, though perhaps still sitting.”

And for Greg and Lucy, it will be a chance to gauge whether the rhythms of the piece are right.

Lydia & George: The Further Adventures of Elizabeth Bennet will be offered as a rehearsed reading on:

Sunday, June 27, 2.30pm, Coronation Hall Slindon, BN18 0QT; tickets £5 on 01243 814207.

Sunday, July 4, 2.30pm; Sheet Village Hall, GU32 2AQ; tickets £5 from One Tree Books on 01730 261199; www.ticketsource.co.uk/null/t-dzqpyn

Sunday, July 11, 2.30pm; Village Hall, West Ashling, PO18 8DR; tickets £5 on [email protected]