Sunday, June 20, 2010

Always That Profession

It was a rare wonderful evening in the theater, the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C., that is, doing Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession, the other night. First, the play is one of his good ones. He wrote it in 1893, but the censors kept it off the London stage until the 1920s and even New York City took a decade to get it on the boards in 1905.

The leading ladies were Elizabeth Ashley as the title character and Amanda Quaid as her daughter, a "new woman" graduated but lately from Cambridge and upset that her mother is still engaged in her profession of running houses in various European cities. Two great company regulars--Ted van Griethuysen and David Sabin--played two principal male roles superbly.

It was great entertainment, including some music hall turns by a young woman named Caitlin Diana Doyle as the young Mrs. Warren. I recall Ashley in her youthful days playing Maggie the Cat in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; while she no longer can play those kinds of roles, she still has a strong capacity to hold your attention on stage.

Shaw's arguments are hardly as controversial today but the fulcrum now falls on whether Mrs. W. should have stayed in her business, even if you give her a thumbs-up on how she got into it and used it to make her way in the world. Both women relate well to our contemporary issue of workaholism--neither has any interest other than a narrow focus on her career, as both the architect hoping for some show of interest in the finer things such as art learns, as does a baronet who has always known how to enjoy his money.

It's nice to see that The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest is now atop the best-seller list in the U.S. (or in The Times anyway). I for one have thoroughly enjoyed Larsson's Millenium series and managed to get hold of this third volume during one of my overseas jaunts before it was published here in May. Both his leading characters are highly attracting but the really great one is Lisbeth Salander, the 25-year-old bi Goth girl who is a genius computer hacker.

Another event of note was attending the Nationals opener versus the White Sox here Friday night to see seven innings pitched by Stephen Strasburg, the phenom. He was quite impressive but the Nats are so hitless that the one run he allowed stood unanswered for six more innings (the equalizer left him without decision rather than the loser) and then Chicago managed to score on a Nationals error in the 11th. The Nats are in a bigtime slump--another witness from upstairs in box 208 was Pale Hose fan Barack Obama and his girls, unnanounced in the stadium but noticed by some fans sitting behind me near the dugout.

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