Top Marks for Top Girls

Richard Lutz sits down to a real corker at the University  of Warwick Arts Centre

My guess is that theatre director Max Stafford- Clark is on his knees thanking the stage gods for what is happening in the entertainment world these days.

With all the hullaballoo about Meryl Streep’s Iron Lady, his new production of the play Top Girls has just been re launched 30 years after its initial premiere.

The play, by Caryl Churchill, is a vitriolic indictment of the Thatcher era  when written back in the early eighties.

Now with Stafford-Clark’s Out of Joint Company re launching the play, he has the added free publicity of what is happening in Hollywood and the annual gong fest a la Streep/Thatcher.

Not that this production needs any help.  It is sharp, fast and loaded with venom as the present Tory administration starts chopping back on services and backing greed (no matter what Mr Cameron says).

Initially, I wondered whether seeing this 30 year old political play would be viewing a museum piece. But its dialogue is still knife sharp, as is its  staging  and its assessment of the 1980’s government (and, by the way, this one too).

It is still relevant.

Churchill wrote a disjointed, angular play, not easy to follow and loaded with twists. But at the end, you are left with theatre that is sassy, venomous and full of content.

Its opening act is renowned in  modern UK  stage history.

Six women sit down at a modern dinner table and cross chat about love, deceit, child rearing and deception. But they are women from different eras and differing worlds- one from the 9thc Vatican, another from medieval Japan, another from the Scottish Victorian past and still another from a  Dark Ages Gaulic kingdom.  But all their hopes and fears are the same- as is their ability to drink copiously to loosen tongues.

The other two acts thrust us into the present. But the same problems arise as the lead character, Marlene, played by Caroline Catz, takes a deep drink of Thatcherism and let’s the rest of her world (and her family) rot. She’s out for herself- despite  never really  shedding the problems her surreal ancestors encountered through the ages as depicted in that surreal  Beckett-like opening  act

A solid thoughtful production.

Until Sat 21 Jan
Tickets: 024 7652 4524024