Top Girls – Caryl Churchill

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Another text taken from my reading list for this term – the rather feminist play Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, something that I would likely never stumble upon otherwise. But, I was not a fan.

I usually don’t mind reading plays, I’ve read some great ones in the last few years such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth, A Streetcar named Desire by Tennessee Williams, or Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest; and all of these together were very enjoyable to read and didn’t feel like a chore unlike this one. Looking back, even Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen was a more satisfying read than this was.

Naturally, that could be that I had to read this play in one day in order to prepare for my class, but all in all, after getting through it, it really just didn’t sit with me well. It’s not an uncomfortable book to read – however there are some moments which can slightly take you aback. However, a major influence to Caryl Churchill was the German playwright Bertold Brecht, and he had a rather peculiar style of staging his play, with notions that you should be in a detached state where you’re supposed to get the message versus getting into the story. He was often very focused on getting the political message across, felt also within Top Girls as it tackles, quite literally, the theme of the feminist.

The entirety of the play is set within a circle of women that, despite channeling a rather strong feminist attitude, seem to have a large portion of their discussions devoted to the topic of men and having, or not having, children. This stood out to me as rather surreal, it just simply seemed rather strange for them to challenge the Patriarch in one way, but be so focused on, essentially, the complete opposite. The initial scene is a dinner party featuring the protagonist and a mix of women from different centuries, and are not necessarily all real; which adds the the strangeness of this play. If one were to see the play in performance, it’s worth to know that the actresses who play the historical or fictional figures are later re-cast in roles of the leads work friends and family – adding more to the already bizarre nature of the play.

I gave this play 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I was clearly not a fan.
To me it just seemed kind of messy and I was never quite certain as to what was going on. My opinion could be slightly negative due to the influence from other authors upon Churchill and the overall detachment from reality of the overall piece. With that being said, I likely would not recommend this


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