Sticky Door, VAULT Festival

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I would describe Katie Arnstein as a voice of a generation, but she isn’t. Because I am nearly 20 years older than her and yet her work speaks to me in a visceral way. So she’s at the very least the voice of several generations. Her work speaks of the deeper truths that women share with each other from generation to generation. Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, friends and colleagues there are fundamental truths that we share.

Sticky Door is the third in Arnstein’s It’s a Girl trilogy. As with Bicycles and Fish and Sexy Lamp she has taken the inspirational words of a feminist that have spoken to her (in this case Nemat Shafiq) and examined them forensically through the prism of her own life and experiences. Then having done that with an honesty that is both brutal and heart-warming she reflects back the fundamental truths of what she finds that speak to a wider culture, a deeper moment and to the woman and girl in all of us.

As with both previous shows, this has the perfect mix of pathos and humour. Throughout the hour-long show you will giggle and wince with recognition. You will nod and smile as well as find your eyebrows raising at times. As with her other shows at the end there wasn’t a dry eye in the house or a person left sitting.

It is great to see this quiet tour de force of a storyteller getting the recognition that she deserves. As those who have read my previous reviews of Arnstein’s work will know I am fast becoming quite the dedicated fan and to see her speak to more and more audiences with her disarming charm, her piercing humour and her brutal honesty is wonderful.

Katie Arnstein, Sticky Door, © Lidia Crisafulli

In a world where women still feel increasingly unsafe, unrecognised – even unwelcome, Katie Arnstein is a breath of fresh air. She neither wallows nor holds back. She is sentimental and emotional and many things that are all too often treated sneeringly in a gendered way. But there is nothing to sneer at in Sticky Door. It is raw storytelling that never feels rushed, never feels forced and never lost my attention.

I can’t recommend Sticky Door highly enough. But even more than that I cannot stress enough that watching it’s creator find her voice throughout this trilogy has been a genuine privilege. Arnstein has a vital and important voice and has developed this magnificently. Enjoy this work for the incredible piece that it is. Then make sure you mark her down as one to watch. Because based on the evidence, the places she is going will be breath taking.

Sticky Door was on at the Vault Festival from 11-16 February 2020.

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