Fringe Box



Stage Dragon Review: Mrs Warren’s Profession at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 15 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 15 Mar, 2023

By Ferenc Hepp

Another classic work with a local connection is brought to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre stage this week by Theatre Royal Bath Productions, presenting George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession in Guildford until Saturday.

Caroline Quentin in the leading role in Mrs Warren’s Profession at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Photo by Pamela Raith.

This gripping five-star production is directed by Anthony Banks and designed by David Woodhead. The well-known play was written by Shaw in 1893 and first performed in London in 1902.

Controversially for its period, it focuses on a former prostitute, who still runs brothels, and her dramatic relationship with her university graduate daughter, along with other characters who all have some sort of connection to Mrs Kitty Warren and Vivie Warren.

Mrs Warren’s Profession with Peter Losasso (Frank Gardner) and Matthew Cottle (Reverend Sam Gardner). Photo by Pamela Raith.

The local significance being the opening setting, which is a peaceful Haslemere, with a very English looking countryside, in the garden of a thatched cottage and the church in the background.

The set design by Woodhead is atmospheric, setting the scene perfectly, and effectively lit by Lizzie Powell to accentuate the contrast of the garden, in the foreground with its shadows, and graduating to the cottage and village scene further away.

Mrs Warren’s Profession with Rose Quentin (Vivie Warren) and Peter Losasso (Frank Gardner). Photo by Pamela Raith.

The mother and daughter protagonists are actually played by the real mother and daughter team of Caroline Quentin (Men Behaving Badly, Jonathon Creek) and Rose Quentin (Doc Martin).

We meet the daughter first, and learn a lot about her from her conversation with Praed, who is a friend of her mother’s. We discover that Vivie has not seen much of her mother throughout her life and there is a mystery about Kitty’s occupation, which Praed is reluctant to reveal.

We soon meet Kitty, along with Sir George Crofts, who is attracted to Vivie, despite being much older, and Frank Gardner, who is in love with Vivie and is the son of the local reverend, Sam Gardner.

The identity of Vivie’s father is in doubt. Vivie discovers that her mother’s profession paid for her education.

Mrs Warren’s Profession with Rose Quentin (Vivie Warren) and Stephen Rahman-Hughes (Praed). Photo by Pamela Raith.

All seems well, until Crofts reveals that he runs a brothel with Kitty, and Vivie and Frank are half-siblings. This causes a rift between mother and daughter, with Vivie returning to work in London, cutting off her mother and refusing to marry Frank.

This is certainly a very wordy play, dealing with notions of female respectability, and challenging for any actor, with its language and emotional rollercoaster.

Matthew Cottle as the Revd Simon Shepherd as Crofts and Peter Losasso as Frank are all quite understated, especially Losasso, but that is done in a positive fashion, and we find ourselves drawn into each of their characters throughout.

Stephen Rahman-Hughes as Praed is somewhat more superficial but does have some stand out moments.

Mrs Warren’s Profession with Rose Quentin (Vivie Warren). Photo by Pamela Raith.

The chemistry between Caroline and Rose Quentin is a definite highlight.

Their performances are exceptional and totally believable, especially Caroline, who experiences a plethora of emotions throughout the piece. I was gripped by every word she uttered, had to stop writing my notes and just listened whenever she spoke, being perfectly faithful to Shaw’s script and sentiment.

As per the Quentins’ programme notes, this play is often hilarious and eventually deeply moving. This five-star production was certainly very well received by an enthusiastic opening night audience on Tuesday.

Mrs Warren’s Profession runs until Saturday, March 18 and tickets are available online here or at the box office on 01483 440000.


Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *