Barry Calvert (left; Sir Croft), Isabel Warrington (Mrs Warren), Colin Willis
Although Shaw completed Mrs Warren’s Profession in 1893, it was censored for eight years and finally produced on the London stage in 1902 and Broadway in 1905, to a public that was outraged by its controversial focus on prostitution and sexual depravity.
Mrs Kitty Warren is one of Shaw’s most vibrant characters. She is a notorious capitalist success whom Shaw described as a “fairly presentable blackguard of a woman.” It is Mrs Warren’s “profession” that raised such a reaction a hundred and some years ago. The on-stage presentation of an efficient, affluent and unapologetic head of a prostitution empire was heard as a call for police action when the show opened on Broadway.
Mrs Warren has chosen a path that has elevated her economic standing and paved the way for a better life for her and her daughter Vivie, at a time when ordinary women had very little or no choices to break the cycle of poverty. Mrs Warren equates self-respect with economic independence even if it is through disreputable actions.
A poignant moment in the play is when Mrs Warren belatedly tries to build a relationship with her now-grown, emotionally remote and principled daughter, and discloses the source of her income to her. Vivie is shocked to find out exactly where the family money comes from, and Shaw makes her the emotional arc at the center of the play.
Over a century old, this essay on the corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of Victorian society, and the limits society imposes on women, is still relevant today. Mrs Warren’s Profession was on recently in the West End and Broadway.
MADC is fielding a strong cast, with experienced actors working with rising young stars, with Isabel Warrington, Colin Willis, Simone Spiteri, Barry Calvert, Andrew Galea and Chris Hudson.
The play is directed by Joyce Grech, with set design by Academy winner Peter Howitt, at the Manoel Theatre on April 8, 9, 19 and 15, 16, 17.
Booking is open online at www.teatrumanoel.com, email: email@example.com or telephone 2124 6389.