‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’ still relevant
By Oscar Basulto
The Antaeus Company launches its 2013 season with an engaging production of George Bernard Shaw’s controversial, Mrs. Warren’s Profession.
Written in 1893, Mrs. Warren’s Profession was banned in Britain and remained unproduced there for nearly ten years. In this country, the play opened at the Garrick Theatre in New York City in 1905, only to have the mayor shut the production down after one night. The entire cast and crew were arrested for” offending public decency.” Shaw wrote the play “to draw attention to the truth that prostitution is not caused by female depravity…but simply by underpaying, undervaluing and overworking women so shamefully that the poorest of them are forced to resort to prostitution to keep body and soul together.”
The play is about the relationship between Kitty Warren and her daughter Vivie. Vivie Warren is a young and practical Cambridge educated woman. She was raised in England living at boarding schools and later at university. Her mother, Kitty Warren, supported her daughter while living abroad, tending to the lucrative family business. By her own admission, she hardly knows her mother. All that is about to change as Kitty visits Vivie accompanied by her creepy companion and business partner, the dastardly George Crofts. Mother and daughter grapple with family secrets and the effects of estrangement. But the ice between them finally breaks when Kitty reveals to Vivie that the family business which financed her schooling as well as the comfortable lifestyle she enjoys is a chain of high class brothels throughout Europe. Mrs. Warren challenges the hypocrisy of a pious society that demonizes prostitution yet does not provide well paid, safe employment to young, working class women. It took every bit of gumption inside Kitty to make the business work. Vivie and her mother connect with each other for the first time.
Though over 100 years old, the play remains as relevant today and this production is in the hands of gifted artists. Antaeus Company’s practice of double casting their shows heightens the fact that theatre is a living art. It offers the opportunity of observing different actors, lead by the same director, tackle the same material in their own unique manner. In the case of Mrs. Warren’s Profession, the cast performs well. It was a treat to note the subtle differences each actor brings to their character. Additionally, shows always evolve once it is turned over into the hands of its actors. The more an actor performs their role, the more chances they get to continue exploration of their character and the more an ensemble works together, the more chances they get to explore their chemistry. Among the stand-out performances are Anne Gee Byrd as a formidable Kitty Warren and Tony Amendola, appropriately creepy as George Crofts. Linda Park and Rebecca Mozo are strong as Vivie Warren. Ramon de Ocampo as Frank Gardner is a charismatic rogue.
* * *
Mrs. Warren’s Profession
Written by George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Robin Larsen
Previews: March 7-13
Performances: March 14-April 21:
Thursdays @ 8 pm: March 21, 28; April 4, 11, 18
Fridays @ 8 pm: March , 22, 29; April 5, 12, 19
Saturdays @ 2 pm: March 23, 30; April 6, 13, 20
Saturdays @ 8 pm: March 23, 30; April 6, 13, 20
Sundays @ 2 pm: March 24, 31; April 7, 14, 21
THE ANTAEUS COMPANY
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood CA, 91601
Thursdays and Fridays: $30
Saturdays and Sundays: $34
$7 in the lot at 5125 Lankershim Blvd. (west side of the street), just south of Magnolia.