Katie Arnstein is quite the busy woman at this year’s VAULT festival, as she is performing every part of her It’s A Girl trilogy – with this being the first outing for the final piece Sticky Door. An exploration of the female experience of mental health and the struggles that come with life in London, Sticky Door moves between the humour and trauma of Arnstein’s year in 2014.
Amongst the quirky yet naturalistic set, Arnstein sets up the precedence of her 2014: sleep with someone new every month. Following on from this, as Arnstein changes the month on her flip calendar, we see the she does not get past Mr July and the gradual decline of her mental health. Initially having casual sex makes her feel great, but how slowly this and the struggles from being a budding actor in London make Arnstein isolate herself. Soon the ‘dick pic metropolis’ of Tinder doesn’t have the same appeal, and she struggles to maintain her relationships.
The mix between talking of her 2014 in London and her earlier school years mean the audience really get to understand and experience Arnstein’s emotions and her story to its fullest. As a Midlander, her stories and anecdotes about growing up and returning to Lichfield (and the ‘purgatory’ that is Lichfield Trent Valley station) are a particular highlight within her past reflections. Likewise, her relationships with her housemate and her friend Laura are beautifully written. Arnstein’s contrast with her calm and rationale friend Laura, especially when Arstein is in the midst of depression says the most lovely realist reassuring words. Also, Arnstein’s choice to blend music into her piece helps to keep the pace, and brings the piece to a poignant close with by explaining the name of the performance.
Arnstein is clearly one to watch out for: with her slick and engaging storytelling, it will be exciting to see how Sticky Door and its counterparts evolve and grow.