edited by Bill Naismith and Nick Worrall
Set in the early Thatcher years, Top Girls is a seminal play of the modern theatre, revealing a world of women's experience at a pivotal moment in British history.
The play opens with an anachronistic dinner party hosted by Marlene, the newly-promoted manager of the ‘Top Girls’ employment agency. Her guests are five women from the past: a transvestite Pope, a courtesan-cum-nun, a tireless adventurer, an obedient wife from Chaucer and the leader of a charge into hell from a Bruegel painting. The feminist themes introduced by this cacophonous scene echo throughout the more contemporary action of the play, as Churchill uses the setting of the ‘Top Girls’ agency to allow a glimpse into the lives of several very different working women.
The play presents complex questions about a feminism which mimics aggressive, oppressive behaviour, and success which can only be achieved by abandoning family ties to force a way to the top. Top Girls premiered in 1982 at the Royal Court Theatre, London.