Widely acknowledged now as a major work of its time, Top Girls centres on a dinner party thrown by a hard-nosed yuppie. Celebrating her appointment as MD of a recruitment agency, Marlene hosts an evening with five historical figures as guests. They include Pope Joan (the early female transvestite Pope), Patient Griselda (Chaucer's obedient wife) and the traveller Isabella Bird. Throughout the course of the party, the women's stories unfold and leave a variety of impressions on Marlene.
Top Girls opened at London's Royal Court in 1982 and also played successfully on Broadway where it won the 1983 Obie Award. Churchill's other plays include Far Away (seen earlier this year in the West End), Cloud Nine (also an Obie winner), Serious Money (Olivier Best Play in 1987) and Blue Heart. She defines her theatrical interests as power, powerlessness, exploitation and dreams.
The cast of Top Girls comprises Hattie Ladbury, Helen Anderson, Pascale Burgess, Elizabeth Berrington, Joanna Scanlan, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Sophie Shaw. The Oxford Stage production is directed by Thea Sharrock and designed by Rachel Blues, with lighting by Johanna Town.
Oxford Stage Company has over the years brought many of its successful touring productions into the West End. In 1999, it held a residency at the Whitehall Theatre, mounting limited-run productions of Penny for a Song, 50 Revolutions, Three Sisters and Making Noise Quietly. Its other recent productions have included Hay Fever, The Contractor and The Wexford Trilogy.
The previous production at the Aldwych Theatre was Ronald Harwood's Mahler's Conversion, which closed on 3 November 2001.
- by Terri Paddock