ComedyNew YorkOff-BroadwayRevival

Mrs. Warren’s Profession – Theatre Row, New York City

Writer: George Bernard Shaw

Director: David Staller 

Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers

As discussion of class issues pervade the contemporary zeitgeist, Gingold Theatrical Group’s revival of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession, currently running at Theatre Row, is a timely production. A reminder that class, bodily autonomy, and women’s issues are long-standing cultural issues. A play that, on its opening night of its original run in New York (October 28, 1905), was shut down and all the actors arrested for indecency. Today, the salaciousness attributed to the original production seems tame by comparison to contemporary life. At no point in the play does anybody outright mention the words “sex work,” “prostitute,” “brothel,” “madam,” or anything along those lines. In typical Shaw style, the true story lies in the subtext.

Contemporary audiences unfamiliar with early twentieth century drama may find any play of the era to be a bit dry and presentational. However, David Staller directs a dynamic cast in such a manner that the emotional truth of what these characters are experiencing transcends periods and mores. There is energy and gusto, there is specificity of intent. Through the belle epoque grayscale stylings of Brian Prather’s set and Asa Benally’s costumes (with some nice touches of color and pattern in the titular character’s wardrobe), rapidly shifting tableaux joyously tumble the story forward.

Bringing contemporary nuance to an older text, Robert Cuccioli, David Lee Huynh, Alvin Keith, Nicole King, Raphael Nash Thompson, and Karen Ziemba each shine in their own accord on the stage. Their excitement at being back in front of a live audience is contagious and serves the tonal balance of the play splendidly.

The understanding that “there are just some things people can’t say” pervades this production, and it is all the better for it. Staller and his team trust the audience to embrace the nuance and invest in an intermissionless production, and that gamble pays off. For audiences that have been curious to see if Mrs. Warren’s Profession can stand the test of time, it is well worth a trip to Theatre Row before this production closes.

Runs Through 20 November 2021 | Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

The Reviews Hub Score

Surely Superb Shaw

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The American team is under the editorship of Adrienne Sowers. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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