Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Mrs Warrens Profession - Chichester Festival Theatre

Mrs Warren's Profession
Writrt: George Bernard Shaw
Director: Michael Rudman

Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile

Mrs Warren’s Profession was first written in 1894 and the content so shocked the press that it wasn’t performed publicly till 1925. Victorian audiences were unable to cope with Shaw’s frank and honest portrayal of a woman who chose prostitution over starvation. This choice is seen only as a business venture by Mrs Warren and her partner in the business Sir Croft, but it is not so black and white to her daughter Vivien.

The production at Chichester Festival Theatre followed the original script and went for realism at all times.

Felicity Kendal and Lucy Briggs-Owen were very strong in the roles of Mrs Warren and Vivie Warren respectively. Their powerful characterisations and emotional depth of performance meant the audience felt truly sympathetic towards the pair as they tried to rescue their fragile relationship. Max Bennet in the role of Frank was enjoyable to watch but also slightly irritating. This mix of tenderness and childishness was well balanced and allowed the audience to sympathise with his sadness of loosing Vivie but to also understand Vivie’s reasons for refusing him. I felt Praed and Crofts characters were slightly underplayed. Mark Tandy’s speech needed a little bit more colour in it as it was in danger of becoming monotonous, while it took me a while to realise the true viciousness behind David Yelland’s character.

The costumes were beautiful and very authentic to the era, as was the set. Although the set added to the realism and it was lovely to look at it did have its disadvantages. The long black outs during scene changes slowed down the momentum of the play too much. The audience were left sitting in darkness for minutes at a time while recorded classical music was played at a level that I felt was slightly too loud to be comfortable. The scene changes also seemed to be long for no reason, with gaps between each item being placed on stage.

This production was of a high quality and kept the audience interested in the plight of the characters right till the final blackout. I only wish there was a wider age range in the audience as this production has characters and a strong message that society as a whole should listen to and understand.

Runs until Sat 28th Nov
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