Synopsis: Top Girls

Date posted: 18 Sep 2017Author: STC Production: Top Girls

Paula Arundell and Helen Thomson (Photo: Rene Vaile)

Top Girls is set in England in the early 1980s. 

Marlene’s star is rising. She's snatched a promotion from the hands of a male colleague who was convinced the job was his. To celebrate, she throws a Saturday night dinner party for herself. In attendance are famous women from history, literature and legend. The women share their extraordinary experiences of life, work, love and children.

On the following Monday morning, Marlene is back at the Top Girls employment agency where she demonstrates the ferocity that has enabled her to thrive in a cut-throat workplace. She interviews female jobseekers and decides who has what it takes to be a 'top girl'… or not. She is also confronted by the wife of the man at whose expense Marlene received her promotion. 

As the story progresses, we meet Marlene’s family: women whose lives have taken a very different trajectory to hers. We discover the sacrifices that have been made in order for Marlene to reach the top. 


† Marlene’s dinner guests are:

  • Isabella Bird: 19th century British traveller and writer
  • Lady Nijo: 13th century Japanese concubine to the Emperor
  • Dull Gret: the subject of a 16th century painting by Pieter Bruegel
  • Pope Joan: as legend has it, a woman who became pope by disguising herself as a man sometime between the 9th and 11th century
  • Patient Griselda: a subject of European folklore, from Boccaccio to Chaucer, noted for her patience and obedience



Top Girls, 12 Feb – 24 Mar 2018, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House

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