Thursday, February 4, 2010

Top Girls First Rate!

OK, first off, an apology. I have seen so much less of Churchill Fest than I 'd planned to, it's ridiculous.

Apart from the fine BLUE KETTLE which closed last weekend, this is the only other show I've made it to.
Judging from the standard of the two productions I did manage to see, that's a pity because both were both very good.

TOP GIRLS is currently playing at the Tom Hendry Theatre ( the theatre formerly known as MTC Warehouse) You still have a chance to see it this weekend and it is outstanding.

Ann Hodges does a fabulous job of directing her fine cast in multiple roles. The pacing and the transitions with one exception were very adeptly handled.

This is a difficult play about the intersection of the personal and the political in women's lives. In the wrong hands, it could easily have become a rant or worse yet, a soap opera. Here, each performance is marvel of nuance and restraint, illuminating the individual character's struggles to navigate a world where a Top Girl still holds a one-down position.

Sharon Bajer, Philippa Domville, Jacqueline Loewen, Tracy Penner, Daria Puttaert, Marina Stephensen Kerr and Jennifer Villaverde all deserve kudos for their fine ensemble and character work.

The set, projections and costume designs by Denyse Karn were elegant and effective. The contrast between the modernist dining room appointments and the period costumes on the actors in the first act worked particularly well. This was the best use of that space I'd seen in a while.

My only complaint was with the decision to dispense with the interval at the end of Act One and break the play in the middle of the second act instead. Yes, it's a long play. However the audience needed a pause at the end of the first act to sit with what they'd just see and heard. Breaking up the play two-thirds of the way through the second act felt awkward and arbitrary and created uneccessary confusion. It was the only cumbersome choice in an otherwise great production.

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