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The dialectic of Top Girls is wide-ranging, covering universal dilemmas facing women, but focuses on major themes of contemporary life. The critique of feminist ambitions is a clear central theme and Churchill's selection of women from the past and modern world shows sympathy for the feminist cause and disdain for the male oppressor, but there is no sentimentality an no comfortable solution is offered for their problems.
Marlene hosts a dinner party in a London restaurant to celebrate her promotion to managing director of 'Top Girls' employment agency. Her guests are five women from the past: Isabella Bird (1831- 1904) - the adventurous traveller; Lady Nijo (b1258) - the mediaeval courtesan who became a Buddhist nun and travelled on foot through Japan; Dull Gret, who as Dulle Griet in a Bruegel painting, led a crowd of women on a charge through hell; Pope Joan - the transvestite early female pope and last but not least Patient Griselda, an obedient wife out of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. As the evening continues we are involved with the stories of all five women and the impending crisis in Marlene's own life. A classic of contemporary theatre, Churchill's play is seen as a landmark for a new generation of playwrights. It was premiered by the Royal Court in 1982.
This volume contains a chronology of the playwright's life and work; an introduction giving the background to the play; a discussion of the various interpretations, notes on individual words and phrases and photographs from stage productions.
|What Kind of Play?||xxi|
|The Play World--A World of Women||xxiv|
|Themes and Context||xxvi|
|The New Woman||xxvi|
|Women and Work||xxxii|
|Women and Politics||xxxvii|
|The Play in Performance--How Many Actors?||li|