Top Girls is a play rooted firmly in "Thatcher" Britain of the early 1980s.

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Helen Brockley

“Top Girls”

Top Girls is a play rooted firmly in “Thatcher” Britain of the early 1980s. Top Girls contains only female characters, but the play focuses upon social and male influences upon them. It centres on Marlene, a career woman, who is determined to triumph over the constraints of her sexuality and surpass men in the workplace. Throughout the three acts, we see her different facets, but also meet a whole multitude of women from the distant past and from her own present. They made me question her independence and reminded me of the age-old dilemmas that women will always face. I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed this production. I had previously watched the film and found it rather tedious but watching it live was excellent. As a female, I was able to see the way females, past and present, are treated compared to men.

Top Girls is a play not necessarily concerned with providing answers but asking questions, mainly about the rather archaic and unfair patriarchal society in which all of the women in this play are living in, or indeed, have lived in. It also deals with certain issues about women and the world of work, and more specifically, the prices that are attached to personal success and achievement. Top Girls is a play which delivers the fundamental elements which theatre is based upon, and goes a lot further and deeper than this. It has educational values and an extremely serious aspect to it, but at the same time can be intriguingly entertaining and addictive, so much so that I felt that I was emotionally dragged into one of the many, sometimes tense, sometimes funny, sometimes shocking conversations between the brilliantly constructed characters. However, I think there is an underlying seriousness to the play which manages to mix well with the half hearted humour evident throughout.

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I especially liked the first scene. I did not realize that the table rotated but it was placed centrally on a bare stage with an ethereal backdrop behind and was extremely effective. The director’s clever use of the revolving stage ensured that the audience had a good view of the fascinating guests. In such an ensemble production, where most of the all-female cast play several roles, justice is certainly done to this important work.

The action begins with Marlene rushing into the restaurant and dictating orders to the waitress. As her five companions enter, the setting of this encounter becomes ...

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