Digital review: The Pecking Order (AIFF/TTS)

Paper Doll Ensemble bring their short (32 minute) play The Pecking Order to the Alabama International Fringe Festival as a digital theatre production.

Although the title might make you think about turkeys and Thanksgiving, this play actually tackles the current debate stateside about access to abortion and issues around pro-life or pro-choice healthcare decisions.

Set as an absurd tragicomedy, but making a real and pertinent point about how politics and religion can conspire to affect the lives of women, The Pecking Order packs quite a punch in a short time.

A fairly new female-led company headed up by Grayce Hoffman, Sara Vanasse, and Amanda Jensen, Paper Doll Ensemble have not been afraid to dig into issues relating to the patriarchy and the female experience.

Promotional logo for Paper Doll Ensemble

I liked the humorous tone which threads through The Pecking Order. It’s very matter of fact without really focusing on the word ‘abortion’. The cast, scripts in hand, move around like busy hens, keeping up an outer facade of bonhomie.

Hoffman and Vanasse both appear in this play, alongside Simha Toledano and Marcia Ferguson. The play centres on the wife and daughters of Justice Harry Blackmun, fifty years ago, and considers how and why they may have influenced the decision to overturn Roe v Wade.

A powerful work of fiction rooted in a howl of frustration and rage, The Pecking Order keeps its powder dry while making well-argued points about how women five decades apart can be so similar and so different.

You can watch The Pecking Order as part of the Alabama International Fringe Festival on Thornhill Theatre Space’s YouTube channel now.


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