Independent Theatre
Goodwood Institute Theatre
Until 23 Nov 2019

Review by Janice Bailey

George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Mrs Warren's Profession’ is a complex comedy. It is not a typical satire or farce – instead it is a character driven story focused on the relationship between Mrs Warren and her daughter, Vivie. The play was banned for nearly 30 years by a Lord Chamberlain who condemned it for being "immoral and improper." Mrs Warren’s ‘profession’ is as a brothel-keeper, although prostitution is never mentioned. Kitty, as she is known, needed a profession which made ‘adequate’ amounts of money – this has allowed her daughter, Vivie to receive the best education. It also meant that growing up, Vivie saw very little of her mother and this has left Vivie emotionally damaged and having no knowledge of where the money came from – instead believing that her mother had deserted her.

The Independent Theatre have a well-earned reputation for presenting plays of a very high standard and their current production of Mrs Warren’s Profession is no exception. David Roach’s set is quite minimalist which allows the focus to be on the characters and the brilliance of Shaw’s language. The costumes made by Sandra Davis and Angela Doherty are colourful and evocative of the era, immediately allowing the audience to be transported back in time.

Eloise Quinn-Valentine is outstanding, delivering a believable and almost flawless performance as Kitty’s daughter, Vivie. John Rosen, John Oster, Patrick Marlin and David Roach all play their respective roles with conviction. Pam O’Grady has the stage presence and experience to make an audience ‘believe’. As a late replacement in the role of Mrs Kitty Warren which required the reading of the script throughout the play, Pam is to be commended for the way she was able to embrace the character. Unfortunately, I found the tension between Kitty and Vivie was diminished as their exchanges could not have full effect because of lack of strong eye contact. In spite of this, the overall enjoyment of the play was not compromised and the audience was very appreciative.