Hello future anna! On Saturday I went to the National Theatre on South Bank in London to see Top Girls! In the afternoon I went to LAMDA to see a third year production of The Cherry Orchard, and then travelled into the city for an evening performance. A theatre focused day, one of my favourite kinds!
So, first off, I paid £7.50 for my ticket YAS I KNOW RIGHT! To do this, sign up for entry pass on the NT website! I think you have to be between certain ages, but worth looking into as you save lots so you can see more! Ok, now onto the review...
A world of experiences are opened up to us by a gloriously strong cast of women, presenting a powerful story through brave lighting choices and emotionally real performances.
Top Girls introduces us to Marlene (Katherine Kingsley), a total boss lady, who is meeting friends at a restaurant for dinner. We quickly learn that her 5 acquaintances are a mix of women from history. As they eat they discuss children, having to hide their gender, and what pudding they're going to choose. The National Theatre always have incredible sets and use of staging, and this first room really blew me away. Everything from the large painted wall at the back of the table to the carefully placed table decorations, it all tied together wonderfully and it really felt like we were watching a meal take place at an expensive London Restaurant. The costumes were beautiful and suited each historical character so well! One character that really stood out for me was Pope Joan (Amanda Lawrence) as she was fantastic. They all were, don't get me wrong, but I just adored her movement and comic timing. You could tell the whole group of women really cared and respected each other, as well as had become great friends. Their chemistry was fab, and I'd love to go and see it again, closer if possible, as they all worked so well as a group. ALSO BIG MANDY FROM THIS COUNTRY PLAYED DULL GRET AHHH!!
The second scene takes place in Marlene's Sister Joyce's (Lucy Black) backyard, where we meet Joyce's daughter Angie (Liv Hill) and her friend Kit (Ashna Rabheru). The girls are hiding from Angie's mother and we begin to learn that even though they're friends, a lot of the relationship isn't really friendly. I thought both young actresses had developed their characters really well, and the chemistry between them was great! Angie is slightly disturbing, wanting to kill her mother, and believing that her Aunty Marlene is actually her mother. Kit tries to freak her out but Angie is stronger. I completely adored this scene, so much! The set was incredible and the lighting was fantastic. It felt cramped and dark, like we were also in the tiny outdoor space. I think this was my favourite scene in the production, it just felt wonderful: the shapes and shadows created, the language and reactions, it was so well written and directed. Love it!!
The first act ended with us being introduced to the Top Girls employment agency, where Marlene had just been promoted to Managing Director, the reason she had been out celebrating at the meal a few nights before. The set was clean with obscurely shaped benches, marking different areas of the office. Lighting was also greatly used at this point, as different areas were lit as they represented different interview rooms and offices. As Angie arrives to stay with her aunt Marlene for a while, Marlene is questioned by the wife of a man who thought he might have been promoted to the MD position. I thought the script at this point was incredibly written. It kinda flipped gender roles on their heads and let us see feminism at a high level, that Marlene was taking this role no matter what her competition was feeling. Even though it's set a few decades ago, the whole play feels so relevant to today, especially with many topics that were openly talked about rather than trying to fit in the guidelines of taboo topics, which I was highly grateful for. Seeing all women talk about women's issues and feelings was so refreshing. It truly made me smile when they all came out and bowed at the end. Makes me slightly mad as to why the National hasn't got any women writers for their new season, as they've proved that they can fly high!
After the interval, the second half only lasted about 30 minutes, and was set in Joyce's home, a year before the previous scenes. The kitchen and living room are definitely of their time, and show us that even though Marlene is making money, her sister isn't really. Again, the National makes incredible sets and props!! Shoutout to all of the backstage artists!!! Marlene is visiting, after not seeing her family for 6 years. She gives Angie gifts, including a dress which Angie puts on in the second scene when she is wanting to kill her mother. Joyce is given an expensive perfume. The family catches up, Angie is sent to bed, and the sister's argue and we discover that Angie is truly Marlene's daughter and Joyce has raised her as her own. Joyce switches the lights off and leaves Marlene with a blanket. She is left in darkness. Even though she has all she might ever need, she is severing ties with her family and is being left alone to live her life. This may be what she wants, after she gave away Angie, and left to live in London away from her family and the place she has come from. She previously tells her sister that if someone is "stupid or lazy or frightened" that she's not going to give them a job, yet Joyce states that Angie is all those things. I feel lighting was so well used in this scene, illuminating characters at certain times and again, making us feel like we're back in the small cramped outdoor space when Angie appears, ghost-like at the end. This scene was powerful, and you could clearly see the sister's unhappy relationship with their body language and heavy differences. This scene tied everything well together, and left me with questions, answers and even more questions.
I guess it can be interpreted in many ways, so if you've seen it, I'd love to hear your thoughts! I guess this kinda turned into a drama and theatre studies essay (throwback to A-levels) than a review, but I hope you liked it as it is my first theatre review along with my previous film ones!
I love writing about films and shows, so let me know if there's something you want me to write about, or if you want to read more, you can visit my instagram account: @anna.create !!
I hope you're still going to the theatre future anna! See you around!