Joan Plowright in Mrs Warren's Profession

Joan Plowright in Mrs Warren's Profession

George Bernard Shaw's play Mrs Warren's Profession, written in 1894, was banned by the British censor for over 30 years because the profession referred to in the title is prostitution. In order to evade the censors' ban, the play was performed in private clubs or 'club' theatres. The first production was in 1902 in the theatre of the New Lyric Club, London. The play wasn't licensed for public performance until 1925.

The wealthy Mrs. Warren and her feminist daughter, Vivie, who has recently finished college, are reunited. Vivie wants to know why her mother is so secretive about her business life, and is shocked to learn that her mother has earned her fortune running a string of brothels across Europe. Shaw wrote, 'Mrs Warren's Profession was written to draw attention to the truth that prostitution is caused, not by female depravity and male licentiousness, but simply by underpaying, undervaluing and overworking women so shamefully that the poorest of them are forced to resort to prostitution'.

This is Joan Plowright, 'the best possible Mrs Warren' in the opinion of the Financial Times, in the title role in the National Theatre's 1985 production.