Dublin-born playwright, critic and political activist George Bernard Shaw wrote Mrs Warren’s Profession in 1893.

The play – on at the Theatre Royal in Bath until Saturday- was immediately banned by the then Lord Chamberlain for the next 32 years for its “inappropriate” subject matter.

Although it was given a private reading in 1902 that allowed Shaw to publish his play, stage productions were banned or shut down.

London audiences had to wait until 1925 for the first public performance of the play, which deals with prostitution and the right of women to determine their own future, plus potential incest.

Mrs Warren’s Profession is about a former prostitute, now the proprietor of a chain of brothels in Brussels, Ostend, Vienna and Budapest, who attempts to establish a relationship with her disapproving daughter.

Shaw argues the economic case for prostitution and creates a dialogue that places women as a medium of economic barter, both within marriage and in prostitution.

The moral argument around the world’s oldest profession is played out in the central relationship between the self-made brothel madam Mrs Warren and her Cambridge-educated daughter.

Here, the Theatre Royal production draws in its audience with the two main roles played by real-life mother and daughter, Caroline Quentin as Kitty Warren and Rose Quentin as Vivie.

In the play, the mother overshadows the daughter, mainly because of her greater life experience and poverty-stricken upbringing.

Caroline Quentin produces a performance full of complexity as the emotionally manipulative and hard-headed madam looking for her daughter to care for her in her old age.

She commands attention, whereas her daughter has a less interesting part to play trying to carve out an independent future while fending off the attention of suitors young and old.

Simon Shepherd fulfils his role with aplomb as the old baronet, Sir George Crofts, who holds shares in Mrs Warren’s brothels, while newcomer Peter Losasso shines as the young and cash-strapped Frank Gardner.

These two are ably supported by Matthew Cottle as Frank’s father, the Reverend Sam Gardner, and Stephen Rahman-Hughes as the artist Praed.

The pace of the first act felt slow and the production only picked up in the second act when Vivie finds out who her father is and decides to reject the overtures of both suitors.

The final scene was anticlimactic, as Kitty and Vivie go their separate ways. Somehow, the final meeting between the two doesn’t produce the high emotional climax the play deserves