Book Review: Top Girls (Caryl Churchill)
Top Girls is a play that I have read previously (of course, being a drama student) but not for many years, so I was excited when Stacie picked it as her #RandomReads choice. I couldn’t really remember what I thought about it. I do sometimes find Caryl Churchill plays go a little over my head, a lot probably to do with the fact some are quite topical to eras that I know little about. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them though, and Vinegar Tom has always been a favourite of mine.This is a tricky one to review because I didn’t find it provoked feelings in me such as liking it, or disliking it, rather, it just made me think. While I read it, I didn’t really think too much of it: I wasn’t exactly bored, but I wasn’t really enjoying it either. But afterwards it stuck with me and I kept returning to it for days afterwards.I think I would have enjoyed watching this play more than reading it. There’s a lot of overlap in the conversations: while this may be truthful to real life, it sometimes made it confusing to read. I imagine it would work better in practice than me trying to do it in my head…
For me, Top Girls captured a lot of what it is to be a woman. In the first scene, all these famous women from history tell stories of their escapades. Some of it is comedic, some incredible and some upsetting. We see a lot of how men try to (and often do) control women in some horrendous stories. In others, women need to imitate men just to be taken seriously. Their children are used as weapons against them.
It’s difficult to pin down the underlying feeling of the play. It could be seen as depressing, how these women are made to suffer in ways men are not. While some is historical, we all know that feminism is an issue and equality is not here yet. It could be seen as hopeful, the way these women do incredible things despite all the odds that are stacked against them.
After reading this, I would really love to watch the play on stage and see how that compares to reading it.