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Review: Mrs. Warren’s Profession (ShawChicago)

| April 26, 2012 | 1 Comment

ShawChicago Theater presents George Bernard Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession" at the Ruth Page Center, and directed by Robert Scogin. (photo credit: Lila M. Stromer)       
      
Mrs. Warren’s Profession 

Written by George Bernard Shaw  
Directed by Robert Scogin 
Ruth Page Center, 1250 N. Dearborn (map)
thru May 7  |  tickets: $12-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
         
    
        Read entire review
     



     
       

Your grandmother’s “Pretty Woman”

     

Jacqueline Jones (Mrs. Warren) and Jhenai Moots (Vivie Warren) in ShawChicago's "Mrs. Warren's Profession" by George Bernard Shaw. (photo credit: Lila M. Stromer)

    
ShawChicago Theater Company presents
    
Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Review by Katy Walsh 

     
   

The play is morally rotten…the story…the incidents…
the characters are wholly immoral and degenerate…
the play is an insult to decency.        
-New York Herald, October 1905

ShawChicago presents Mrs. Warren’s Profession.  Kitty Warren is a businesswoman, a single mother – and a whore.  Vivie Warren is a college graduate, a detached daughter, and a feminist.  As Vivie embarks on her career path, mom decides to visit and provide counsel.  Kitty’s arrival in town attracts an entourage of friends and/or clients and/or Vivie’s father.  One of the men could be all the above and also the dad to Vivie’s current suitor.  Looking at the financial side to sex complicates everyone’s relationship.  Mrs. Warren’s Profession is your grandmother’s “Pretty Woman.”

Playwright George Bernard Shaw shocked the world with his provocative tale of prostitution.  The 1905 New York debut resulted in the entire company being arrested.  The 1925 London premiere was thirty-two years after Shaw wrote it.  It’s wasn’t that it was too bawdy.  There were no scantily-clad women simulating sexual acts.  It was the dialogue that was determined to be obscene.  And it wasn’t because it was crude locker room vulgarity.  The scandalous content was the rationalization of prostitution as a business.       

The old-fashion version of woman’s right to choose focuses on sex as a moneymaker.  Shaw logically comes at the topic from all angles. 

Gary Alexander (Frank Gardner); Skip Lundby (Reverend Samuel Gardner) - ShawChicago Mrs. Warren's Profession Jhenai Moots as Vivie Warren and Jack Hickey as Sir George Crofts

Jhenai Moots as Vivie Warren, Gary Alexander as Frank Gardner, and Joseph Bowen as Praed

Under the direction of Robert Scogin, the talented cast bring the oldest profession into a civilized light.  As is the hallmark of ShawChicago, shows are performed as concert readings.  No blocking.  No scenery.  No costumes.  It’s a little bit like prostitution as the actor must summon up all her capabilities to sell us on her role.  The lady of the evening is Jaqueline Jones (Kitty).  Jones plays it with perfect moxie.  Despite the typical ShawChicago no frills staging, an effervescent Jones frequently disappears and returns adorned in flashy jewelry and colorful outfits.  The visual builds the character’s persona that this woman unapologetically breaks-the-rules.  Her crass English accent contrasts with her daughter’s sophisticated one.  Jhenai Mootz (Vivie) delivers an uptight and upright performance.  Mootz amusingly sways to the rationalizer in the room. Throughout her confident performance, Mootz gives us glimpses of a vulnerable girl. The animated Gary Alexander charms with his philandering.  Alexander is ‘ever so’ hilarious strategizing his own version of sex for hire.

Although the jolting subject matter has tamed with time, the argument still creates somewhat of a stir.  Shaw makes a strong case for self-sufficiency through intuitive channels.  In this economy, Mrs. Warren’s Profession will make you think.

  
Rating: ★★★
  
   

Mrs. Warren’s Profession continues through May 7th at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts (map), with performances Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm, Mondays 7pm.  Tickets are $12.50-$25, and are available online at BrownPaperTickets.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at ShawChicago.org(Running time: 2 hours, includes intermission)

Jacqueline Jones, Gary Alexander - Mrs. Warren't Profession, ShawChicago Theater

All photos by Lila M. Stromer 


     

artists

cast

Jacqueline Jones (Mrs. Warren); Jhenai Moots (Vivie Warren); Joseph Bowen (Praed); Jack Hickey (Sir George Crofts); Gary Alexander (Frank Gardner); Skip Lundby (Reverend Samuel Gardner)

behind the scenes

Robert Scogin (director); Lila M. Stromer (photos)

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Category: 2012 Reviews, George Bernard Shaw, Katy Walsh, Ruth Page Theater, ShawChicago, Staged Readings

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