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The Moral Women | Hen and Chickens Theatre Bar

The Moral Women, which is written and directed by Megan Earl, is a gripping play that focuses on abortion clinics, women's rights, and discussions about morality and choice. Set in the waiting room of Feminam Clinic - an underground, illegal, but safe and caring, abortion clinic. Five women - Janet, Billie, Jackie, Phi and Elena - find themselves in a moral dilemma along with a heavy but thrilling dosage of secrets and history. 

Set in a semi-dystopian 2027 UK where abortion has been deemed illegal, the immediate implications and tension serves the story well. This added layer achieves in instantly setting the characters and their world, whilst simultaneously bringing suspense and fear in the audience. The play then introduces five vastly different women, each with different dynamics and their own emotional baggage, resulting in a thrilling and complex piece of theatre. The piece challenges the negativity around abortions, whilst also discussing sexual assault, self-discovery and women's rights.

Kandy Rohmann plays the warm and caring Janet, the ever present receptionist who becomes the show's rallying cry against this new law. She manages to evoke laughter with her reactions even in the more tense scenes. Emma Wilkinson-Wright as the tougher Billie is a pleasant surprise. Moments of her empathy and vulnerability with the other characters, as well as her sharp reflexes and bravery, are heart-breaking and her performance renders something of a gut punch performance. Georgie McGuigan as Elena really nails the internal moral complications with a subtle performance.

Laura King as Jackie navigates the emotional rollercoaster that her character undergoes. Tasked with several complicated relationships, a conflicting moral compass, and a pawn in the larger scheme, Jackie is a beautifully written character and King does her justice. Jasmine Rachelle as Phi is the show's standout character. Despite her shorter stage time, she delivers an incredible performance and manages to connect with the audience. 

The writing in the show is well paced and every dialogue is deliberate and thoughtful. The relationships and characters are flawed, and rough and lovable, and they spring to life through the performances. Without any spoilers, there's a tough moment of the "circle of life" between two of the characters that really helps ground the play in a harsh reality. 

The show occasionally thrusts essential information in a random fashion, not quite sure how to introduce it naturally, which stifles the otherwise brilliant and intelligent writing. These range from the abortion clinic constantly having anti-abortion propaganda playing on the TV, which seems flawed. 

The final scene follows a prolonged awkward silence and lapses back into it, giving it a disjointed feeling and resulted in audiences not quite realising it was the end. Unclear whether it was trying to justify a character's action, elevate the tension, or garner sympathy, it sadly undercuts the excellent tension and momentum that it had so carefully built.

The staging is minimal with chairs set up at either end of the stage, and Janet's desk and laptop in the middle. The five women never appear at the same time, yet each of them cross paths at some point, resulting in a fun and slow reveal of deeper relationships and interesting conversations. The lighting and sound design are excellent, and during a pivotal, almost horror scene, this really shows. Using dimmed lighting, growling noises and the well established tension, the small theatre becomes a transformed space. The usage of the light and sound design is powerful, rendering the audience into a shocked silence. 

The Moral Woman is an important play that addresses a daunting future and fights for the space and ability to make choices for one's self. An emotionally stirring play that looks at the grey space behind every decision with flawed characters and morality, it's a powerful piece.


Gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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