Mrs Warren’s Profession, The Courtyard at Covent Garden

Mrs Warren’s Profession, the Courtyard at Covent GardenThe players looked a right strange bunch as they took their applause at the end of the penultimate performance of Centurion Theatre Company’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession. So strange did they appear, perhaps uncomfortable in each other’s presence, that Katharine remarked that it must be lonely being an actor; all those transient working relationships.

Nevertheless, they worked well together in an excellent (I don’t want to fall back onto the ‘intimate’ cliché) studio space that was used to full effect. Shaw’s play may be a well reasoned polemic on the economics of prostitution (Sir George Croft’s 35 per cent return on his investment is not to be sniffed at) but it never preaches and is full of humour. Sir George’s observation that if you really want to live a decent life, you must first cut yourself off from decent society still holds true, but at least most of us are aware that merely participating in the country’s economy has consequences and try in some small way to make trade fair.

Written in 1893 Mrs Warren Profession’s was banned until 1925, reports the programme, and troubled by French censors as late as 1955. Perhaps not so much for suggesting an otherwise financially disadvantaged woman might find a career in prostitution rather lucrative, but that such a business might be managed as just a business. Well worth a read.

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