Friday, 30 October 2009

Mrs Warren's Profession

To see a sparky Felicity Kendal in a new Theatre Royal Bath production of Shaw's once controversial comedy about prostitution, Mrs Warren's Profession, last night. The play which tells the story of an independent-minded 1890s Cambridge-educated young woman's discovery of how her largely estranged mother earns her living and has paid for her genteel upbringing, is remarkable not only for its subject matter but also for its strong feminism. Behind the comedy there is a sharp critique of the sort of jobs and wages that poorer women faced in late Victorian England. Much of the action takes place in the country, where the local vicar's background is found to have coincided a little too closely with Mrs Warren. With its principal theme, and a suggestion of incest, the play, although written in 1894, was not performed publicly until it appeared in New York in 1905. It took another 20 years before the Lord Chamberlain's officials deemed it suitable for a general British audience (though it was performed in private theatre clubs from 1902). The play's qualities shine through in this fine production from Bath. With excellent support from David Yelland, as Lord Crofts, as caddish a figure as any created by Shaw, and great acting from Lucy Briggs-Owen, as Vivie, Mrs Warren's daughter, this production is a great revival of an underperformed gem. It is touring before a West End slot in 2010.

1 comment:

Ajax said...

George Bernard Shaw was, of course, frequently full of sh*t...

http://lavatoryreader.typepad.com/the-lavatory-reader/2009/10/how-george-bernard-shaw-nearly-died-of-diarrhoea.html