According to The Cambridge Companion to Victorian and Edwardian Theatre, George Bernard Shaw's wrote this play "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 to keep body and soul together."
He makes this point very well as serves up his challenge of the world order through comedy. It was very controversial in its day, well, for a long time afterwards I am sure, as Bernard Shaw was a man ahead of his time. He was a socialist, a playwright, music critic and the co-founder of the London School of Economics. His works were popular because they were comic, but his points certainly hit home. The current Sydney Theatre Company's production of Mrs Warren's Profession is well done.
Helen Thomson plays Mrs Warren. She dominates every scene she is in and is charismatic, pragmatic and a wonderful character. Lizzie Schebesta plays her daughter, Vivii, who is very much cut from the same cloth. They may have different professions, but their attitudes and approaches are very similar.
The production crackles with wit and universal truths. Truths that are as relevant today as they were back in 1893. I recommend the play and the Sydney Theatre Company's production is simple, elegant and forthright. And the staging and backdrop is very effective. Watch a behind the scenes vignette below about the making of the backdrop.