Considered one of the most important feminist plays of the 20th Century, “Top Girls” opens at Willamette University Sept. 26.
The play begins in a posh, Thatcher-style London restaurant, where Marlene celebrates her promotion to managing director of the Top Girls Employment Agency by throwing a “Mad Hatter’s” dinner party for an array of mythical and literary women.
The guests include everyone from a Japanese courtesan turned Buddhist nun to a Victorian-era Scottish traveler. Through conversation, the women learn how they’ve each given up significant relationships — as mother, wife, lover, nurturer and partner — to attain a place in a patriarchal society.
Director Susan Coromel says “Top Girls” forces audiences to consider whether nurturing can exist side-by-side with competition.
“I think it’s safe to say that you would find a Caryl Churchill play on virtually any theatre director’s ‘bucket list,’ and I am no exception,” Coromel says.
“If we can laugh about the interpersonal relationships and allow our assumptions about feminism and about gender to begin to morph, we might be able to ponder the question that Churchill proposes.”
Although “Top Girls” is a political play, Coromel says it is classified as “mostly” a comedy. “Top Girls” accurately reflects Churchill’s socialist and political viewpoints, but it also explores time and space.
“The play is a plea for all of us to re-envision the world where the ‘top girls’ can be celebrated, but at the same time, not at the expense of those at the bottom,” Coromel says.
“Top Girls” is showing in the Willamette University Pelton Theatre Sept. 26 through Oct. 11, with a preview performance Sept. 25. Thursday through Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and matinees begin at 2 p.m. Sept. 28, Oct. 5 and Oct. 11.
General-admission tickets for the preview performance cost $8, the same as all tickets for students and seniors 65 and older. Matinees are $10, and evening performances are $12.