The cast of Top Girls.

Fiona Byrne as Marlene (in blue) really knows how to select  conversation starters in ‘Top Girls’ on stage at the Court House Theatre until September 12. The Shaw Festival presentation examines  feminism in a comical and thought provoking light.

REACHING CONTEMPORARY POLEMICAL HEIGHTS

Stop me if you hear this one before: A Victorian traveler (Catherine McGregor), a female Pope (Laurie Paton), an Asian concubine (Julia Course), and the soon-to-be Managing Director (Fiona Byrne) of a staffing agency are chatting up a storm at a dinner table in England at the dawning of the 1980s.

It is a peculiar gathering of almost unimaginable guests yet such a visceral scene is precisely what opens Caryl Chuchill’s dramatic identity search Top Girls.

The wine does pour endlessly in Act I throughout the girls night out event making it increasingly difficult to get a word in edgewise until one character pops the oh-so-important question “Why are we so miserable?”

Top Girls has nothing to do with why women—or these particular women—are miserable but in Act II and III, it does paint bold strokes of distress in its portrait of two sisters (Fiona Byrne and Tara Rosling) and a daughter (Julia Course) looking for emotional light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s blistering funny and deeply grievious at the same time.

It’s not until the dying moments of the play do you really begin to scratch your head over the level of love lost between family when a new world for women whisks away one of its own but leaves lose ends of a personal life behind.

Caryl Churchill’s airing of the role of women in society as well as their role in relationships to each other seems perpetually obscured.

Soaring high above the average theatre experience, Top Girls reaches contemporary polemical heights in examining feminism in a post Maggie Thatcher society.

Review by Steven Berketo

 

TOP GIRLS by Caryl Churchill May 23-September 12, 2015 COURT HOUSE THEATRE, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario TICKETS $25.00 – $116.00 1-800-511-SHAW www.shawfest.com CAST Tess Benger, Fiona Byrne, Julia Course, Claire Julian, Catherine McGregor, Laurie Paton, Tara Rosling DIRECTOR Vikki Anderson SET & COSTUMES Sue LePage LIGHTING Louise Guinand MUSIC/SOUND Thomas Ryder Pane STAGE MANAGER Diane Konkin

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