Last Chance To See: Top Girls @ Lyttelton Theatre
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For a play that’s been a staple of women’s lit modules at universities across the country for years, it’s easy to find it slightly odd that Caryl Churchill’s most famous work has only been staged a handful of times since its premier in 1982.
Image courtesy of The National TheatreThe play has been called a work of genius, but some might argue that its opening act - in which Thatcherite recruitment consultant and all round “Top Girl” Marlene hosts a drinks party for a group of real and fictional women from across history - is more than a bit disjointed from the rest of the play. They wouldn’t be wrong, and it might be this that has made it a difficult play to stage in its almost 40 years of existence. The National Theatre has taken on the challenge, though, and the majority of the reviews that it has garnered over its four-month run have been positive. This Top Girls has a big cast, a long run, and a prime staging location at our premier theatre on London’s South Bank. So why does it feel like it’s missing something? As it enters its final week, it’s hard to establish why this rare staging of Top Girls doesn’t quite hit the mark. Certainly, all the components are there: a darkly comic story of sisters and sacrifice, a powerful lead in Katherine Kingsley, and an aesthetic that pairs a sleek, deceptively pastel-coloured 1980s office and prominent shoulder pads with a down-trodden family in a rural village, struggling to keep going.
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