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D left the nicest message on the answering machine yesterday. Too bad we weren’t home to glow with pride in real time. Where we were was at a matinee performance at the California Shakespeare Festival of Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” I have a notion you were exposed to that play during run-up to prelims, i.e., you came across a reference in a book saying it was Shaw’s first play and that the title character's profession was prostitute/madam and the play was controversial. And you (if you were like me) thought, “Well, that couldn’t possibly have been entertaining given the constraints of 1894 – couldn’t have been entertaining then or now.”
So it was curiosity that drove me to insist we add Mrs. W. to our CalShakes playlist, kind of “academic,” you know, feeding the knowledge center and telling the pleasure center to shut up and sit down. Thus, it was quite a shock to find so much pleasure in the production. Shaw was a champion of the well-made play, and this is well made (though a bit static in the setup: two folk sitting and talking at one another like talking heads on a news set). I don’t think it was just the acting that made it plausible that a Cambridge math whiz would excuse her mother for her life as a prostitute (an inevitable and appropriate accommodation to the oppression of women under capitalism) and then condemn her for her life as a madam (a morally indefensible embrace of the exploitation inherent in capitalism).
It plays better than it summarizes.
The pleasures of living in the Bay Area in a nutshell: Too much good stuff. And we hope you drop by – singly, or with D, or (like James Dickey) with some woman you met on the plane. (But we would much prefer D.)