Bicycles and Fish, Vault Festival/Waterloo East Theatre – Review

“Be more Gryffindor.”

Katie Arnstein

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, Arnstein’s 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 recreates 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 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 2018


Bicycles and Fish runs at the Vault Festival until 11th February.

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