Venue: Wharf 1 Sydney Theatre Company (Walsh Bay NSW), Jul 4 – 20, 2013
Playwright: George Bernard Shaw
Director: Sarah Giles
Actors: Helen Thomson, Lizzie Schebesta, Eamon Farren, Drew Forsythe, Martin Jacobs, David Whitney
This cast of six in Shaw’s late 19th century work is truly remarkable. All players are convincing, nuanced and colourful, and their chemistry with each other is frequently breathtaking. The two female leads are particularly enthralling, both effortless with their magnetic charisma. It is important that this mother-daughter pairing appeals to the audience symmetrically in order for the philosophical ideas in Shaw’s work to be effective, and in the case of this production, this balance is indeed one of its great strengths.
Ms Helen Thomson plays Mrs. Kitty Warren, and her performance is astoundingly brilliant. With every entrance, the stage is lit by her luminous presence, which is entirely appropriate and necessary for such a grandiose and controversial character. Thomson’s every calculated variation in her voice and perfectly designed physical gestures create not only the most alluring and commanding character onstage, but also presents a vigorous philosophical argument to the central theme of morality that could have easily collapsed at the hands of a lesser actor.
While it is easy to be lost in the actors’ magnificence, this production of Mrs Warren’s Profession explores morals, money and motherhood both effectively and intriguingly. It is a testament to the strength of Giles’ direction that the themes in this 120 year-old play still come across contentious and fascinating.
Special mention must be made of the beautiful costume and hair design, which are effectively transformative for the players, and help to create a sense of time and space within the minimal set design. The backdrop, also visually stunning, works effectively in conjuring up visions of splendid English gardens within the confines of a modern black box theatre. Music between scenes sets the tone perfectly for the action that is about to begin again.
Mrs Warren’s Profession by the Sydney Theatre Company is quite simply unmissable.