Vault review: In Clay

The Vault Festival returns with over 500 shows lined up across the next two months, and my first choice for review, In Clay, looks to have a very bright future indeed.

I headed for home buzzing as much as I did for musical Ride at Vault 2020. You just know when you have witnessed something really special, and this is it.

Based on a real story, the life of Marie-Berthe Cazin (1872-1971) becomes a bright new British musical ranging across the first few decades of the 20th century. Despite the very noisy trains above this space, we are quick to settle into pre-war France.

Production photo for In Clay

Jack Miles (music/lyrics) and Rebecca Simmonds (book/lyrics) have created a period-perfect piece in which numbers like ‘Talent’ and ‘Fingernails’ allow rising star Rosalind Ford to shine.

With an amazing range which can handle jazz scat, smooth and mellow, and the most melodic of squeaks, Ford brings Marie back to life, whether planning for the visit of her successful friend, dealing with the artistic betrayal of her husband Michel, or pounding a piece of clay.

Sorcha Corcoran’s set design and Grace Taylor’s direction places the action and the four-piece band (led by MD Matt Herbert) along the thin performance space of the Cage, allowing Ford space to perform and scattering the floor with paper and pots.

Production photo for In Clay

Marie is a character you quickly come to love, gifted with clever sparkling rhymes in song and a book which moves from girlish experiments to a confidence in her art. In her movement and expression, she is always catching the eye.

Lighting consultant Tom Turner brings some clever flair to proceedings, highlighting the musical moments and showcasing the art through a mix of fixed and hidden bulbs.

In Clay is an hour-long musical that holds its head high and intrigues from the moment Ford is spotlighted, walking down to the stage before engaging her audience in conversation.

Production photo of In Clay

With her strong and vibrant performance, a star is surely born, and I can’t wait to see what she does next. Miles and Simmonds’s production company, Design & Canvas Co., is one to watch.

This musical sets the bar high and proves once again what a valuable resource London has in the Vault Festival. It is a showcase for the widest variety of emerging artists, and my advice is to dive in.

In Clay finishes performances at the Vaults tonight, 28 Jan – tickets here – but watch out for it in the future.