Shavian humor and irony disguise this typical situation comedy of many a parent-child relationship. Not a Holiday play by any stretch of the imagination, but a lesson in life by any standard.
A woman’s dishonorable past morphs into the failure of her life with the one important object of her being, her daughter. Or so she thinks! The dilemma that many parents must face with their children when the time comes for truth and reconciliation with their decisions for survival and self-respect. Parents, beware of being judged by your own children!
Come watch “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Michael Tabib.
About the Play
Written in 1893 and initially banned, Mrs Warren’s Profession is, in fact, a feminist play. George Bernard Shaw himself declared that he had written it for women and about women.
As a socialist, Shaw was aware of social and gender inequality. The play emphasizes that the economic system of the times had no place for women at the top of the success ladder. Thus, the only way in which a woman could escape poverty and remain independent from male domination is to sell her body and charms into prostitution.
Perhaps the single most important and significant feature of Shaw’s play is its frank and unsentimental treatment of the business of the oldest profession.
Shaw’s moral drama about sexual hypocrisy and the constraints of gender offers two exceptional roles for women and somehow always seems relevant. He constructs a story of a singular mother and a strong-willed daughter whose lives stand at cross-purposes. Kitty Warren, unbeknownst to her daughter Vivie, is a madam on a grand scale, maintaining “houses” in Brussels, Vienna, and elsewhere around the continent. This allows her to fund her daughter’s education and comfortable country life.
At the same time, Mrs. Warren’s Profession isn’t exactly a feminist classic, but Shaw’s dramatic genius gives the canon of modern drama two meaty women’s roles among its collection of men who illustrate the moral hypocrisy of his era and our own. When the brutal Crofts tells Vivie the truth about Kitty in a crude effort to buy her hand in marriage, he asserts the impossibility of keeping oneself pure in transactions of any kind. That Vivie would be repulsed by her mother’s business, he suggests, demonstrates her naiveté more than a superior morality.
The play presents two women: a mother and a daughter, cut from the same cloth, who finally can’t find enough space between them to continue living in the same sphere. Nonetheless, Shaw’s political message resonates even today. Vivie stakes her claim as the unmarried, independent “new woman,” and hers isn’t a victory so much as a rather defiant, compromised choice among a very constrained pair of options. Shaw’s incipient feminism is heightened here by tempering the moral consequences of the play and underlining that given their historical moment, neither woman can truly win.
We hope to look forward to events that will continue toward progress by giving women their equal role in societies across the world in years to come.