‘Smiles & substance’: BICYCLES & FISH – Vault Festival #Vault2018 ★★★★

In Festivals, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Michael DavisLeave a Comment

The Vaults, London

Nothing puts feminism into perspective like Donald Trump. Opening her show with a series of his most famous ‘comments’ about women, Katie Arnstein channels her inner Bob Dylan by holding up cue cards à la ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. Counter-intuitively, the silent commentary that Arnstein offers in response comes across loud and clear…

Exploring how and why feminism is important to everyone, Arnstein deftly utilises music, comedy and personal experiences to great effect. Easing into the show with a few songs on her ukulele, her understated delivery offers some genuinely funny and insightful observations about the world at large.

It is, however, when she’s recounting her schooldays that the various threads fall into place. Growing up just outside Lichfield, Arnstein vividly re-creates those halcyon days with regular visits to her GP, UTI infections and daydreaming about having her first, perfect kiss. The anecdotes regarding Ask Jeeves and Encarta had me in stitches (memories of search engines pre-Google came flooding back), while the PSHE lessons she describes have an original take on losing one’s virginity.

Arnstein’s time working in a cafe, however, marks her transition from girl to woman, as the things she witnesses and experiences first-hand change her forever. Hearing the many incidents in her formative years, it’s not only understandable why Arnstein thinks feminism is important, but probably one of the most compelling arguments anyone is likely to hear. Lest we forget, Bicycles and Fish really is fun – guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face, while also having something of substance to say.

If none of what I’ve said has convinced you, Arnstein has been mentored by Daniel Goldman, director of Team Viking, which should give you an idea of the show’s pedigree.

Michael Davis on Twitter
Michael Davis
Michael Davis is a former actor and director. He’s passionate about fringe theatre and publicising shows that don’t necessarily receive mainstream attention. He’s previously reviewed for Female Arts and The Play’s the Thing and now runs his own site, Breaking the Fourth Wall. Michael is interested and knowledgeable about all aspects of the arts. He tweets @Michael30517721.
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Michael Davis on Twitter
Michael Davis
Michael Davis is a former actor and director. He’s passionate about fringe theatre and publicising shows that don’t necessarily receive mainstream attention. He’s previously reviewed for Female Arts and The Play’s the Thing and now runs his own site, Breaking the Fourth Wall. Michael is interested and knowledgeable about all aspects of the arts. He tweets @Michael30517721.