Monday, October 04, 2010

Mrs. Warren's Profession (The SOB Review)

Mrs. Warren's Profession (The SOB Review) - American Airlines Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, New York City, New York

**1/2 (out of ****)

Call the cops!

For a play that was raided and shut down by the New York Police when first mounted on Broadway over 100 years ago, Mrs. Warren's Profession isn't just the oldest in the world, it may have been among the boldest as drawn by playwright George Bernard Shaw through  Doug Hughes' revisionist direction.

As delivered in a bravura performance by the impeccable Cherry Jones, Mrs. Kitty Warren has rationalized her vocation to a degree that it's almost impossible not to give credence to her forceful if flawed logic. For Kitty Warren never seems to doubt that she's vanquished over the drudgery of working class labor, turning the tables on all who've second guessed just who's being exploited.

Indeed, the proud Kitty Warren is supremely confident that hers is a truly noble profession. She is particularly proud of its provision of the very best for her beloved, if rarely seen, daughter Vivie (a hardboiled yet shrill Sally Hawkins in her Broadway debut).

Kitty has been running a string of bordellos on the European continent. But ironically, Vivie has become accustomed to a proper upper class English lifestyle and has taken on an affected air of arrogance.and moral superiority all while Kitty has been plying her natural-born wares to ensure her daughter's very comfort and education. 

However, Vivie's most volatile lesson is yet to come. She is about to learn that everything in her haughty existence has been made possible by her mother's very profession. And just when she's willing to forgive what she perceives as Kitty's past transgressions, she learns that the brothels still feature her mother as the star attraction.

As a harsh critic of capitalism's underbelly, Shaw offers Mrs. Warren's Profession as one of his most potent polemics against the clash of classes in Victorian society. As Hughes' interpretation here makes it appear that Shaw has overlooked the inherent exploitation of selling one's body, if not one's very soul, his reasoning is saved by the extraordinary talents of Cherry Jones.

It's to Jones' enormous credit that she imbues her Mrs. Warren with such warmth, passion, style and grace in making Shaw's arguments, that our hearts break for her as she faces potential rejection from her own daughter. But as Vivie, Hawkins offers a brittle performance as she rethinks her own moral code.

With ladies like these to fill your evenings, Mrs. Warren's Profession may turn tricks with everything you've ever thought about the demimonde.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 04 October, 2010, Blogger Dale said...

I'm looking forward to seeing this next week but was hoping for more stars from you Steve! I'm sure Cherry will captivate me even if the entire production doesn't.

At 04 October, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

It's worth seeing for Cherry Jones.

At 04 October, 2010, Anonymous Timothy Childs said...

According to Stagegrade, this production is getting very mixed reviews (and only a 'C' average):

We, of course, all love Ms. Jones, but what was the impetus behind reviving this particular play? It seems an odd choice.

- Timothy Childs

At 17 November, 2010, Anonymous Spence said...

I know and love Cherry. I think she is better than ever in this production!

At 17 November, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Absolutely agree with you about Cherry Jones. She's exceptional.


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