The play is set in the Britain of the early 1980s and examines the issue of what it means to be a successful woman, initially using 'historical' characters to explore different aspects of women's 'social achievement'. Churchill has stated that the play was inspired by her conversations with American feminists: it comments on the contrast between American feminism, which celebrates individualistic women who acquire power and wealth, and British socialist feminism, which involves collective group gain. There is also a commentary on Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister, who celebrated personal achievement and believed in free-market capitalism (Thatcherism). Marlene the tough career woman is portrayed as soulless, exploiting other women and suppressing her own caring side in the cause of success. The play argues against the style of feminism that simply turns women into new patriarchs and argues for a feminism where women's instinct to care for the weak and downtrodden is more prominent. The play questions whether it is possible for women in society to combine a successful career with a thriving family life.
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