• Amy Toledano

Bicycles and Fish by Katie Arnstein.

What is it?

The first in Arnstein's "It's A Girl!" Trilogy, which looks at various times in her life to exemplify the disparity between genders in our current social climate.

What is it all about?

In her first instalment, Arnstein takes us back to her younger years, when she was a fifteen year old girl. Beginning with a song that is just a song (and definitely not one about feminism), Arnstein unpacks how difficult it is to fully comprehend the whole feminism thing and explains that it is totally fine for all of us to be learning and understanding as we go along.

Arnstein then follows a day in her life, in which, she wakes up with a plan (or rather, laments in the bath). To be the strong, confident woman that she was born to be, and ask out the boy that she is love with.

As the day progresses, we are hit with a dose of nostalgia so strong that we almost forget ourselves when in typical Katie Arnstein fashion we are side-swiped with the reminder that women experience sexism everyday, whether it is in the way we are told to dress (such as not wear lipgloss, because boys don't like it) or being harassed on a train full of people by a group of intoxicated men.

A day in the life of a young woman, should be warm, pleasant and innocent, but unfortunately this isn't the case.

How did it make me feel?

Once again I leave the theatre blinking the tears from my eyes. Arnstein pulls me in and punches me in the gut, holding up a mirror and revealing the guarded nature of being a woman, the idea that we are forever looking over our shoulder and always feeling a step behind.

Arnstein manages to portray all of this while keeping us laughing. Her easy, conversational manner is one of her greatest assets, keeping us close and making sure that even though the subject matter may be difficult, she wants us to have a nice time. What is lovely, is that this sentiment is genuine, and there is a real nature of care that comes into the performance, which makes this an even more wonderful theatrical experience.

Anything else?

Unsurprisingly at it again, Arnstein is what the future of theatre looks like. We best be ready for.

Bicycles and Fish is playing in the Cage, VAULT Festival until the 16th February 2020.

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