Play shows that, for women, success comes at a heavy costIt’s a dress rehearsal, and director Roman Zolniercyzk exudes a friendly and collected manner. It’s comforting because directors are rarely that composed, especially when opening night is just a few fretful rehearsals and late night coffee breaks away.
The show Mr. Zolniercyzk is directing is called “Top Girls.” Written by Caryll Churchill and running through Sunday at Changgo theater, it is being staged by the Seoul Players, an English-language theater company made up of both expatriates and Koreans.
Mr. Zolniercyzk prefaces the rehearsal with a slideshow depicting famous and respected women from around the world. The purpose is to drive home a point ― women achieve, they just have to work harder than men to do so.
That’s what “Top Girls” is all about. It’s a multilateral presentation of the adversity and hardship women must endure to achieve what they want in today’s society.
The first act is a sumptuous dinner party, hosted by a woman just promoted at her employment agency, “Top Girls.”
She’s joined by five famous women who share their life experiences. You later realize that it’s all a dream, fabricated in the mind of Marlene (the heroine). The audience has the opportunity to hear women talk about the daily struggle to achieve their goals. The act ends after the women have all shared their lives, and sit brooding about what they’ve heard.
The second and third acts take place in the life of Marlene. The second act depicts a day in the life of an employee at the Top Girls Employment Agency. Marlene can be seen in action and glory as she relishes the thought of ascension to the position of managing director.
The third act is a flashback to Marlene visiting her family; tensions and blood pressures run high.
Both acts provide an in-depth look at how much women must struggle and what they have to give up in order to realize their dreams in life.
The set is impressive. Everything is sturdily crafted and is aesthetically pleasing to look at. Mr. Zolniercyzk built the main parts of the set, and perhaps for this reason the room emanates a sense of accomplishment.
The closeness of the actors to the audience creates a sense of intimacy between those performing and those watching. It’s a brilliant opportunity for the audience, as facial expressions and physical subtleties are easily picked up.
Overall, this performance looks very promising and very strong. When asked about casting, Mr. Zolniercyzk said that there were no large adjustments made with regard to the script, and that he feels that the casting was accurate and precise.
This is the sixth play performed by Seoul Players, but the first in which Mr. Zolniercyzk, the group’s founder, has had complete directorial control. In previous productions, he let others take the reins and take the show where they saw fit.
This time, however, his schedule allowed him to direct the play, and he seized the opportunity enthusiastically.
Mr. Zolniercyzk says that if the play works, the audience will take away one thing: the knowledge that women face infinitely more difficult odds to get what they want out of life, and they often have to make large sacrifices to do so.
His achievement is raising concepts that have been major points of contention for centuries and allowing them to surface in the form of a brilliant play.
by Ian Choe
Ticket prices range from 10,000 won ($9) to 20,000 won. Changgo theatre is located across the street from Yongnak church in Myeong-dong.