Interciew: Felicity Montagu swaps Partridge for Austen in Wycombe play

Felicity Montagu as Mrs Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.
Felicity Montagu as Mrs Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.

Known for her comic roles in the Alan Partridge series and the Bridget Jones movie, Felicity Montagu is perfectly cast as Mrs Bennett in the touring production of Pride and Prejudice coming to theatres next year.

Felicity will star alongside Matthew Kelly as Mr Bennett, and together they will endeavour to get their five daughters married off to eligible young men in true Jane Austen style.

Felicity played the long suffering PA Lynn in I’m Alan Partridge, a role she played opposite Steve Coogan in both the television series and the 2013 film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

She also memorably played Perpetua in Bridget Jones’ Diary and was most recently seen playing Mrs Mainwaring in the 2016 film remake of Dad’s Army.

Her role in Pride and Prejudice will take her to another era, but many of the issues within the story are still as relevant today as when the book was published in 1813.

She said: “Jane Austen writes very astutely about women and their situation, and whilst women are much more emancipated these days, many of the issues she covers still resonate; that society she writes about was very tight, but still the things that happen within the play are very relevant.

“They’re about emotions and about people not achieving happiness. I also think it’s very funny and very sad. It’s a very good comedy drama.”

One of the most universally loved and quintessentially English novels of all time, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of a family of humble means. Mr and Mrs Bennett see the perfect opportunity to improve their social standing when the wealthy Mr Bingley and his eligible friend Mr Darcy move to the neighbourhood.

But while Bingley takes an immediate liking to their eldest daughter Jane, the dismissive Darcy instantly clashes with the Bennett’s headstrong second daughter Elizabeth.

Felicity is looking forward to taking on the role of comical Mrs Bennett. She said: “She’s a testy role and a very demanding one because she’s a very mercurial character. She changes very quickly on a sixpence.

“I like her self-righteousness and her ability to tantrum and to be almost childlike. The element of being a child in a rehearsal room is terribly exciting and I enjoy that; I enjoy the child in her.”

Felicity says she first encountered Jane Austen at school and feels her characters are painted almost like pictures, with great skill.

Pride and Prejudice, adapted for the stage by Simon Reade, will be at Wycombe Swan from Tuesday, January 24, through to Saturday 28 next year in matinee and evening performances. Tickets cost from £21.50, concessions and discounts available. Box office 01494 512000.