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Isabella Bird is the first dinner guest to arrive at Marlene's celebration. In real life as discussed throughout the first act of the play, Isabella is a world traveler. Her adventures take her to all corners of the world. At dinner, Isabella tells everyone that she was first instructed to travel by a doctor who thought it would improve her poor health. Following this advice, she took her first trip, a sea voyage to America as a 40 year old woman.
As mentioned in the play, she lived with her mother and her younger sister for a long time, Henrietta Bird, who she often talks about with great affection throughout the dinner party. She also mentions Jimin Nugent at the party, a man with whom she spent quite a bit of time in America.
Outside of the play, Jim was in love with Isabella but she never paid attention to his advances. In real life, she once wrote in a letter to her sister "He is a man any woman might love, but no sane woman would marry. Isabella is an interesting character at the dinner party in the play because she seems to have the most in common with Marlene. Isabella, like Marlene, did not marry young because of her career, but later married Dr. John Bishop, who died two days before their 5th anniversary.
She refers to him as "my dear husband the doctor" but, despite her love for her husband, is still disappointed with marriage itself "I did wish marriage had seemed more of a step". Isabella gets the last words in act 1 and continues to discuss her final travels to Morocco.
The play opens in a restaurant, where Marlene is waiting for some friends to arrive. She is throwing a dinner party to celebrate her promotion at the employment agency where she works. As the women arrive and start the meal, they begin to talk about their lives and what they did. Each of her guests is a historical, fictional or mythical woman who faced adversity and suffered bitterly to attain her goals.
Lady Nijo recalls how she came to meet the ex-Emperor of Japan, and her encounter with him. While the rest of the women understand the encounter as rape, she explains that she saw it as her destiny: Within the context of Pope Joan's narrative, the women discuss religion.
At this point the waitress, who punctuates the scene with interruptions, has already brought the starter and is preparing to serve the main courses. All the women except Marlene discuss their dead lovers. They also recall the children that they bore and subsequently lost. Nijo's baby was of royal blood, so he couldn't be seen with her. Pope Joan was stoned to death when it was discovered that she had given birth and was therefore female and committing heresy.
Griselda was told that her two children had been killed, in a cruel test of her loyalty to her husband. After dessert, the women sit drinking brandy, unconsciously imitating their male counterparts. Marlene takes a fancy to her even though she seems lost and helpless. She doesn't know what type of job she wants—only that she wants to travel and be with her husband. Angie is abrasive and argumentative with both her friend and her mother, Joyce. She and Kit fight and Angie says she is going to kill her mother.
Kit doesn't believe her, and they start to talk about sex. Angie accuses Kit's mother of sleeping around, but it becomes apparent that neither of them know what they are talking about; Kit is only 12 and Angie is quite immature for her sixteen years. They then express their congratulations to Marlene for getting the top job. Win meets Louise, a client who after conscientiously working for many years at the same firm is deciding to quit. She slowly opens up to Win, describing how she had dedicated her life to her job, working evenings at the expense of her social life, without reward.
She has found herself at 46, with no husband or life outside of work, in a position where she trains men who are consistently promoted over her. The action then switches to Marlene's office where Angie arrives, having taken the bus from Joyce's house in the country. She is shy and awkward and her presence is clearly an unwelcome surprise to Marlene, who nevertheless offers to let Angie stay at her place overnight.
They are interrupted by Mrs. Kidd, the wife of Howard, who was passed up for promotion in favor of Marlene. Kidd tells Marlene how much the job means to her husband, how devastated he is, and questions whether she should be doing a 'man's job'. It becomes clear that she is asking Marlene to step down and let her husband have the job instead, which Marlene firmly declines to do.
She tries to clear Mrs. Kidd out of her office, but Mrs. Kidd only becomes more insistent until Marlene finally asks her to "please piss off". Lights shift to Shona arriving in Nell's office looking for job opportunities. At first Nell is impressed by her surprisingly accomplished resume, but quickly figures out that Shona is underaged and making it all up as she goes. At the same time, Angie is having a conversation with Win about Angie's aunt and Win's life, but falls asleep in the middle of Win's story.
Nell comes in with the news that Howard has had a heart attack. Marlene is informed but is unperturbed, and Nell responds "Lucky he didn't get the job if that's what his health's like". The final act takes place a year earlier in Joyce's kitchen. Marlene, Joyce and Angie share stories with each other.
Angie is very happy that her Aunt Marlene is there, since she looks up to her and thinks that she is wonderful.
Shortly before Angie goes to bed, Marlene pulls a bottle of whiskey out of her bag to drink with Joyce. As they drink, they discuss what is to become of Angie. With brutal honesty, Joyce tells Marlene that Angie is neither particularly bright nor talented and it is unlikely that she will ever make anything of herself.
Marlene tries to brush this off, saying that Joyce is just running Angie down, as this sober reality contradicts Marlene's conservative mentality. It is revealed that Angie is actually Marlene's daughter, whom she abandoned to Joyce's care, causing Joyce to lose the child she was carrying from the stress.
The play ends with Angie calling for her Mum towards Marlene. It is unclear how much Angie heard of Joyce and Marlene's argument. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The play's cast involves women from age ranges 17 - 23 Contents. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. TopGrl has a dungeon full of tools for their mutual satisfaction.
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