Mrs Warren's Profession

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Previewed 16 March 2010, Opened 25 March 2010, Closed 19 June 2010 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London

A major revival of George Bernard Shaw's play Mrs Warren's Profession in London starring Felicity Kendal and directed by Michael Rudman.

Mrs Warren's daughter, Vivie, has never realy known much about her mother. A prim young woman, she has enjoyed a comfortable upbringing, a ambridge education, a generous monthly allowance and now has ambitions to go into the Law. Is it conceivable that all this priviledge and respecability has been financed from the proceeds of the oldest profession? How will Vivie react when she finds out the awful truth about her mother's ill-gotten gains? Shaw's ultimate test of a mother-daughter relationship is one of his most witty and provocative plays. Written in 1894 but banned from performance in Britain until the racy 1920s, Mrs Warren's Profession lays bare the rampant hypocrisy of Victorian society and its constrained morals.

The cast for Mrs Warren's Profession in London features Felicity Kendal as 'Mrs Warren' with Lucy Briggs-Owen as 'Vivie', David Yelland as 'Sir George Crofts', Max Bennett as 'Frank', Mark Tandy and Eric Carte. It is direccted by Michael Rudman with designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by David Howe and sound by Jason Barnes. This production comes into London's West End folowing a successful season at the Theatre Royal in Bath. George Bernard Shaw's other West End plays include Pygmalion, You Never Can Tell and Saint Joan.

"Might this be the first time that Felicity Kendal and the word prostitute have been mentioned in the same sentence?... I've always suspected that Kendal might possibly be a wolf in sheep's clothing. So she proves in the title role of Mrs Warren's Profession, one of George Bernard Shaw's best and most biting plays, in which he attacks double standards, sympathises with women forced by poverty into the oldest profession, and all within a moving, amusing and gripping couple of hours. In Michael Rudman's excellent revival, Kendal's Kitty Warren sweeps on to the stage, svelte and elegant in scarlet brocade, little lace gloves, her hat aflutter. She radiates confidence, affluence and good taste. But it was not always thus. Once dirt-poor, she was a 19th Century Belle de Jour who dragged herself up by her suspenders, became a madam and set up a chain of highclass brothels in partnership with former client Sir George Crofts (David Yelland, super-smooth and chillingly calculating). It paid dividends for this single mother: an entree into upper middle-class respectability and her daughter Vivie's expensive education. Not that Vivie has ever suspected what Mama's work involved... Far from being grateful, Vivie seizes the moral high ground and condemns and shuns her mother... Needless to say, in this fiercely feminist play all the men are feckless and vice and even incest is acceptable if the price is right. Perfectly shocking." The Mail on Sunday

"It's good to see the great actress [Felicity Kendal] very much in evidence in Bernard Shaw's old potboiler. Mrs Warren's 'profession' is a lot less shocking now than when the old boy wrote it in 1893, but somehow, as the story goes about its antiquated, comfy, and ever so slightly somnolent way, Miss Kendal invests it with moments of real pathos. Michael Rudman's direction is, however, reverential to the point of being sluggish and I was irked, too, by some very long set changes which, given Paul Farnsworth's boring design, scarcely seemed worth the trouble. As for the supporting players, Lucy Briggs-Owen is a particular disappointment as Mrs Warren's daughter. In the final moments, she had the punters laughing at lines that ought to have had them crying." The Sunday Telegraph

Mrs Warren's Profession in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre previews from 16 March 2010, opens on 25 March 2010 and closes on 19 June 2010.


Mrs Warren's Profession starring Brenda Blethyn Novello Theatre 2002

Previewed 2 October 2002, Opened 10 October 2002, Closed 18 January 2003 at the Novello Theatre in London

A major revival of George Bernard Shaw's play Mrs Warren's Profession starring Brenda Blethyn and directed by Sir Peter Hall.

Brenda Blethyn is joined by a top quality cast in Shaw's brilliantly provocative and superbly witty comedy. Controversial in its time, this is now acknowledged as a true classic and will be one of the not to be missed highlights of the Autumn West End season.

The cast for Mrs Warren's Profession in London features Brenda Blethyn as 'Kitty Warren' with Rebecca Hall as 'Vivie Warren', Laurence Fox as 'Frank', Peter Blythe as 'Praed', Richard Johnson as 'Sir George Crofts' and James Saxon. Directed by Peter Hall with designs by John Gunter. Brenda Blethyn makes a hugely welcome return to the West End stage to play the title role in the centennial production of Bernard Shaw's Mrs Warren's Profession, directed by Peter Hall. Brenda Blethyn has immense theatre experience, but is perhaps best known for her award winning film work including Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies, the hilarious British comedy Saving Grace and most recently the US hit Lovely and Amazing. Peter Hall's credits include Lenny about Lenny Bruce starring Eddie Izzard (Queen's Theatre 1999).

"I've seen few stage debuts as accomplished as Rebecca Hall's this week in Mrs Warren's Profession, George Bernard Shaw's cracking attack on the poverty at the root of prostitution. The play is a family affair, in this case offstage as well as on as Rebecca is the daughter of Sir Peter Hall, who directs this admirable, intelligent production... She is brilliantly cast as Vivie... Laurence Fox, son of James, also proves a chip off the old block as Frank, a splendid upper-class twit with immaculate comic timing. And Brenda Blethyn is superb as Kitty Warren, whose veneer of respectability chips easily (and amusingly) to reveal how common and pathetic she truly is." The Mail on Sunday

"Shaw's play has been waiting for Peter Hall to direct it, and, at 71, he tackles it with the same elegant ferocity with which GBS wrote it at 37. Mrs Warren is an international brothel-keeper, and her vast income enables her to get her daughter, Vivien, through a succession of private schools and Cambridge. Vivien, who is a fiercely noble-minded intellectual tomboy, knows nothing about this. Finding it out, with an almost Sophoclean inevitability, is the moral fulcrum of the play... This play is almost unique in Shaw's oeuvre: it has a subtext. Nobody is quite what they seem or want to seem... Mrs Warren wants to hang on to Vivien the way she hangs on to her investments; and Brenda Blethyn's portrayal of innocent, destructive corruption is the best thing she has ever done. It drives Hall's superb production like an engine from hell." The Sunday Times

"This wonderful deconstruction of the hypocrisy hovering behind high society at the turn of the century was immediately banned. It remained outlawed until 1925. In the year 2002 it was amusing to watch the characters dancing around the play's central topic. Peter Hall's direction is very traditional and you would imagine that this is how George Bernard Shaw would want his play to look. And I can't imagine that the great man would have had the slightest complaint about any of the actors who brought his work to a 21st century audience in the West End last night. As the duplicitous old madam Mrs Warren, Brenda Blethyn, showed why she is one of our finest performers. Her clashes with daughter Vivie - excellently played by Rebecca Hall - were electric... This is good old fashioned theatre. No tricks, nothing flashy - just a first class play with top notch performances." The Daily Mirror

"I've seen few stage debuts as accomplished as Rebecca Hall's this week in Mrs Warren's Profession, George Bernard Shaw's cracking attack on the poverty at the root of prostitution. The play is a family affair, in this case offstage as well as on as Rebecca is the daughter of Sir Peter Hall, who directs this admirable, intelligent production, and Maria Ewing, whom she strikingly resembles. This helps explain her extraordinary talent, poise and assurance. She is brilliantly cast as Vivie, the clever young woman who inherited all the drive of her mother, Mrs Warren, who dragged herself out of poverty and educated Vivie on the profits of a chain of brothels. Hall's Vivie impressively claims the moral high ground and cannot forgive her mother for continuing the business. Laurence Fox, son of James, also proves a chip off the old block as Frank, a splendid upper-class twit with immaculate comic timing. And Brenda Blethyn is superb as Kitty Warren, whose veneer of respectability chips easily (and amusingly) to reveal how common and pathetic she truly is." The Mail on Sunday

Mrs Warren's Profession in London at the Novello Theatre previewed from 2 October 2002, opened on 10 October 2002 and closed on 18 January 2003.