Working in the pubic sector . . .

Mrs Warren's Profession

Malvern Festival Theatre


SUE Holderness, famous for her role as Marlene in Only Fools & Horses, is an apt choice to play the lead role in this fine production.

That's because there is more than a whiff of Marlene in the lady of the night Mrs Warren, who has gained financial status despite her common beginnings.

For those of you unfamiliar with the play by George Bernard Shaw, it was originally banned in England due to its audaciousness in giving a prostitute a voice to justify herself. Despite being the world's oldest profession, Mrs Warren's Profession was deemed way too frank and ground-breaking when written in 1894 - and for the next three decades.

The story focusses on young head-strong and sensible Cambridge graduate Vivie Warren, who finds out her mother has financed her education and luxurious lifestyle through a lengthy career of prostitution.

This discovery leads to a fall-out between family, friends and suitors as well as raising some poignant questions about hypocrisy withinMrs Warren society.

There is a cast of famous names in this splendid production created by Cheltenham's Everyman Theatre and alongside Holderness is Christopher Timothy, once of All Creatures Great And Small, as Sir George Crofts

Holderness has the right balance of bravado and likeability to play such a strong character and Timothy is cast against type as an odious elderly rich man wanting to get his hands on her naive daughter.

Sue Holderness as Mrs Warren and Christopher Timothy as the lecherous Sir George Crofts

However, it is Emily Woodward playing Vivie who stands out. She is exceptional in the role playing a feminist ahead of her time, who wants nothing more than to be left alone to smoke cigars and have a glass of whisky while reading a murder mystery novel - something that attracts gasps of dismay from her fly-by-night beau Frank.

It's a small cast but a strong one that gels well. Ryan Saunders, playing Frank, seems like a talented young name to look out for while Richard Derrington, as his reverend father, is an experienced slick operator whose voice you may be familiar with as Mark Hebden in The Archers.

Christopher Bowen, who has appeared in an endless list of television dramas from Big Deal to Lewis and Parade's End, is another strong link in the production as likeable chap Praed.

Malvern is the final leg of a brief tour for Mrs Warren's Profession and I'd recommend trying to get tickets while you can. To Saturday, 1, August

Alison Brinkworth



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