Top Girls

CATHERINE AIREY: Not so Top, but then not so Girls either.

bats Caryl Churchill Catherine Airey cross dressing drag Fitzpatrick jack gao jasmine lynn rosie morgan saoirse mallorie Top Girls

Fitzpatrick Hall, Queens’ College, 7th-10th March, 11pm, £4-6

Directed by Rosie Morgan

[rating: 1/5]

Top Girls is an all-female play. That’s very much the point of it. This production, on the other hand, experiments with drag. It has three male cast members, and it wasn’t made clear why.

Either director Rosie Morgan was trying to make a deep point about feminism that was totally lost on me, or not enough girls auditioned for parts. I’ll be kind and assume the latter (incredulous as this seems in the massively female-dominated world of Cambridge drama) since the men dressed as women added nothing to the play other than a few cheap laughs as they teetered around the stage in heels.

In fact, Jack Gao’s portrayal of Nell and Jannine verged on the farcical, completely undermining the seriousness of the play. Instead of contemplating social and gender inequality, I found myself laughing, along with the rest of the audience, whenever the actors’ voices broke or Gao reached to straighten his wig.

The other performances were varied. Jasmine Lynn’s Win was quite impressive, though it was frustrating to see her wrongly upstaged by the boys. Equally impeding was Saoirse Mallorie’s ‘acting’. She was maddeningly quiet, and her dialogue with the other characters wholly unconvincing. Still, I imagine Lynn might thrive in a play with a stronger cast.

Of course, it didn’t help that the play was a lateshow. But even so, Top Girls was laboriously long. Morgan didn’t seem to cut much from the Churchill’s original script, and this, I think, was the play’s major downfall.

Top Girls can still be a relevant play in today’s society, but this production suffered from a lack of creative direction. The play felt painfully dated.

Its inspiration seemed to stem almost entirely from the 80s film version. Admittedly, it imitated this well, but offered nothing new. You’d be better off saving your money and borrowing the Top Girls DVD for free from the English Faculty Library.

And, for those of you desperate to see (or participate in) some cross-dressing, you’ve not long to wait – ‘Denim’ returns on the 16th.