It’s a Girl Trilogy: Bicycles and Fish, Sexy Lamp, Sticky Door
Katie Arnstein’s one-woman shows, three of which are staged at this year’s Vault Festival, powerfully explore complex subjects such as feminism, gender politics, sexism, and the #MeToo movement with tender and effortless storytelling.
The first of the trilogy, Bicycles and Fish, is a reference to the quote, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” by social activist Irena Dunn. With stark facts that resonate while Arnstein holds flashcards, this simple and effective introduction paves the way for a performance that is very well-constructed and deeply personal. Arnstein discusses cystitis, the painful condition that she suffers from, but follows this with light anecdotes like the average aims of a 16-year-old: kiss crush, save up for driving lessons, and be more Gryffindor.
Describing misogyny through many dark experiences that are threaded throughout the trilogy, Arnstein holds the audience’s attention easily, and delivers with a poignancy that is rarely found in one-person shows. With resounding voices of women making a stand, the Time’s Up slogan echoes meaningfully at the end, a reminder of the ongoing fight for equality.
Sexy Lamp‘s title is taken from the test developed by Kelly Sue DeConnick, who proposed that if you can replace a female character on television with a lamp and the plot still functions, the feature has failed. Seth MacFarlane can be overheard hosting the 2015 Oscars, repeatedly chanting “we can see your boobs”, amidst sexist remarks by an array of misogynists. The playwright reminisces about her upbringing in the Midlands, then attending drama school in London, experiencing the rough terrain that is life after university, from working in a boutique store that was an undercover escort agency to being coerced into doing topless auditions by directors. Despite these turns, Katie remains steadfast, standing against the odds at every turn.
In her last instalment, Sticky Door, Arnstein once again demonstrates the ability to capture and move viewers to tears. Focusing on her own sexual freedom after a bad breakup, she chooses to have one partner per month, though this doesn’t all go to plan. It is the actor’s unwavering ability to reveal harsh truths that proves particularly poignant, shining a light on situations that occur to women everywhere.
Arnstein’s writing shocks the audience into silence, but is equally brilliant at landing jokes successfully, with numerous witty lines and moving songs. Ultimately uplifting and filled with hope, the performer sets the bar high and is not to be missed when she’s on tour again.
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli
It’s a Girl Trilogy, including Bicycles and Fish, Sexy Lamp and Sticky Door, is at Vault Festival from 11th – 16th February.
Read more reviews from our Vault Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Vault Festival website here.