Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Career woman forced to acknowledge dark side of success in Top Girls

By Tamara Letkeman, doug Editor

Looking for some live entertainment to brighten up your winter? Then don't miss the Douglas College production of Top Girls, running March 8-16 in our Studio Theatre.

The play, by Caryl Churchill, is the latest production of the departments of Theatre and Stagecraft & Event Technology. Top Girls charts a journey through the psyche of Marlene, managing director of the Top Girls Employment Agency, as she returns to the sister and niece she left behind in her quest for success.

The play is set in Britain in the early 1980s and examines the meaning of success for women in a world ruled by men. But director Claire Fogal says the play goes much deeper.

"Churchill is a brilliant writer who manages to pack a lot of political thought into the play without it feeling preachy," she says. "There are bits about power and the masks that we put on as women to climb the ladder, and there's also a lot about socialism and the poor versus the rich."

Fogal says the Douglas College production mainly focuses on relationships, because they are "at the heart of the play."

"Not only that main relationship between Marlene and her sister, but the evolving relationships between a whole group of fantastical characters who are similar to women Marlene knows in real life."

The fantastical characters include Pope Joan, the woman who disguised herself as a man and became pope for two years in the ninth century, and Dull Gret, the subject of a Bruegel painting that depicts a woman leading an army of peasant women as they battle devils in Hell.

"She fought devils because she'd had enough of violence and her children being killed," Fogal says. "She is the figure who really knows how to stand up against oppression, and she basically teaches all the other women to do so."

Marlene's toughest battle takes place in her sister Joyce's kitchen, when they confront the darkest secret from their past.

"They have this amazing verbal battle at the end, and Marlene finally realizes that everything she's been running from has actually fallen right down into her lap. There is no escaping."

Top Girls runs March 8-16 at the Studio Theatre, Douglas College, 700 Royal Ave., New Westminster. Tickets ($8-$12) available through the Massey Theatre, 604 521 5050.