Mrs Warren's Profession

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 16 Feb-Sat 10 Mar


Much of what passes for love these days is really about economics. Which of us hasn’t heard a man or woman criticise their loved one’s ‘lack of ambition’ in lieu, in fact, of a shortage of cash. In a society where so much of our emotional life is really about transaction, it’s no wonder that prostitution continues to thrive.

In Bernard Shaw’s classic, here directed by Tony Cownie, young Vivie Warren, an educated and privileged young career woman of the early 20th century discovers that her mum has, in fact, progressed from a prostitute to a wealthy brothel owner. The fallout from this is both funny and politically observant, if ultimately grim.

Paola Dionisotti, a TV and film regular, plays Mrs Warren, and Emma Stansfield (Ronnie from Coronation Street) plays her daughter Vivie.

‘It’s about capitalism,’ says Dionisotti. ‘As long as women in a capitalist system are seen to be commodities there’s a problem. The recent prostitutes’ murders in Ipswich shows it’s still deep rooted, in women too ?" a belief in a form of behaviour in the female of the sex which puts them beyond the pale, and at that point there are a whole different set of rules.

‘In the 19th century, and ever since, a great deal of legislation has been passed, much of which was about eliminating prostitution altogether, but since nothing was done about the core point about eliminating the commodification of people, nothing changed.’

Stansfield adds: ‘These days the porn industry is one of the biggest industries we have; because it’s taboo, people are willing to pay so much money for it.’ Stansfield’s character chooses to reject such values, but seems to become emotionally cold in sacrificing career for emotion. ‘She isn’t terribly aware of her sexuality, it isn’t important to her. She doesn’t weep at the end of the play, because she sees that as a feminine tool, and she isn’t going to cheapen herself with it.’ This piece promises a night of thoughtful humour for all.

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