The Place’s Young Critics review: Bicycles and Fish at VAULT Festival

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by Cara Lee

In the first of three one-woman shows performed by Katie Arnstein at the festival, she cleverly blends humour, emotion and the everyday sexism of our society to make powerful points. In this particular show, as she tells a story of “the day she became a feminist” as a teenager, she deftly weaves together women’s everyday experiences with the things everyone that age goes through, whilst adding a pinch of often ukulele-based comedy to lighten the tone of the whole thing.

The way she speaks about these issues also feels very real and grounded. She certainly doesn’t fill the worn stereotype of the ‘preachy feminist’ that many like to perpetuate. Instead, she speaks in a way that will make everyone understand that these issues are real and that women need to be listened to.

The songs she peppers in throughout the show also really add to the humour, as well as the tone, particularly because in addition to being a great performer, she’s also a skilled songwriter. As well as being great on its own, her wit also makes the darker, more emotive points even more poignant. Without giving too much away, the sudden tonal shift from laughter to silence really drives home the situations being discussed and as a result the points being made by the show as a whole.

All these sides of the show are linked together by Katie’s fantastic storytelling abilities – she’s an incredibly engaging performer, bringing every line to life with her witty tone.
At two points in the show Katie also communicates with the audience through writing on pieces of cardboard, whilst various pieces of audio play over her writing. This once again helps massively to bring home the reality of what she’s speaking about, giving it an even more impactful punch at both the start and at the end.

Overall, Bicycles and Fish is a wonderful and witty show which is able to mix its various tones perfectly. This show will be coming to The Place in June this year – look out for tickets, as this is one you definitely don’t want to miss!

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

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