Top Girls: It’s 1981 and you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Who wins when you put yourself first and who loses?
Top Girls opens with a hilarious, dark and fantastical dinner party with women guests from culture and history who are celebrating the achievements of Marlene, as she is promoted to be the Director of the Top Girls Employment Agency. We then watch the reality of Marlene’s shrewd and calculating existence and the women who inhabit her world. We see how her life and those around her have been impacted by her decisions, and find out what women are having to give up or are gaining through the liberation of being able to act like a man, and what Marlene has given up in order to become the Top Girl.
Set in the early years of Thatcher’s Britain the play examines what it takes for a woman to succeed, asking whether the uncompromising strive for personal achievement is to be held above a form of feminism which celebrates their instinct to care for, and want the best for, those around them. The women in the play who have adopted male values to get ahead don’t always win, but neither do those who have stayed at home in what has traditionally been ‘their place’. Thirty-five years after the play was first published; there are many parallels with our own society, offering us a fresh opportunity to reflect on what has changed for women and us all in the intervening years.