Review Top Girls, Caryl Churchill, National Theatre by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Upon the National Theatre stage – a stage I only saw a short time ago transformed into a slanted living room, I now see a chic and expensive looking restaurant set.

Coming into celebrate, we meet a whole host of historical female figures – all with their own blood thirsty, unbelievable and hilarious stories, the cross over between the time set play in the 1980’s with much older eras makes this play instantly comical and poignant to the power of women.

In a time of the Me Too movement, and continued fight for equality, a play focussing on how extraordinary women have always been, the struggles the still face and the pressures we experience is not exactly new. But Churchill, having written this 1982, seems to have been way ahead of her time in writing a piece of theatre that we have only really been seeing develop across fringe and west end stages in the last few years. While at the time of Maggie Thatcher; a time where the glass ceiling began to break, we have still found ourselves continuing the fight till 2019. And so Top Girls feels even more inspiring to this day.

The performers, as expected at the NT are impeccable. A beautiful all female cast, not a single male is seen on stage and this emphasises the sheer power of the play.

The first half features these hammed up yet interesting characters – perhaps a little stereotyped – they cover a range of feminist topics that we were unaware that would be an issue in their era. They did try to cross over conversations, perhaps to make this seem more like a natural meal amongst friends than a staged one. I am not sure how much I felt it worked; it was a struggle to tell what each person was saying at different times.

The second half really brought up the sense of family, of growing up and a dysfunctional family and their relationship with one another and men. Again, the interactions were perfect and we felt real emotion in the scenes.

A play that could have easily aged badly, Top Girls is as important as ever – funny, clever and poignant, any female identifying as a feminist needs this play in their life.

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