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David Porter » Reviews » Top Girls

Top Girls

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 21 June 2008

Top Girls

Caryl Churchill’s feminist postmodern classic drama about Eighties Britain is bravely given an airing at the Maddermarket.

It asks if it is possible for women to combine a successful career with family life, among other things.

But don’t let that put you off.

The production by Michelle Montague is intriguing, with many stylistic features enhanced such as overlapping dialogue and multi-layering of times and peoples.

The play is famous for its dreamlike opening scene in which Marlene (Jenny Dewsbury), highflying at the Top Girls employment agency, dines with famous women from history and fiction: Pope Joan, Dull Gret from a Brueghel painting, Lady Nijo, a Japanese mistress of an emperor, and Patient Griselda from The Canterbury Tales!

It explores issues like Marlene getting a job over a man and the tension of a career female and her family in the form of her neice (Fran McInally) and her excellent sister (Ginny Porteous).

These are not novel dilemmas, but this is the Thatcherite era 25 years ago. It’s a political play with some great comic lines and punchy revelations.

The seven multi-roling women of the cast warm to their themes and gradually the whole thing makes sense between the sisters.

It’s actually all clever stuff. Too clever by far, some might say, but worth a go to experience something really different in theatre.

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