In Clay, The Vaults | Review

Friday 27 January 2023

In Clay
The Vaults
Reviewed on Friday 27th January 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 

A sweet tale of a female artist, specifically a potter/clay creator, in 1930s France, In Clay follows our protagonist Marie-Berthe developing her love of creating as well as looking at a few of her relationships and ultimately, the way she strives for and eventually defines, success.

Rosalind Ford takes the helm of this one woman show and does so with glorious affect. Not only does Ford play Marie-Berthe, but also a number of side characters such as her best friend Henrietta and her teacher Jean-Charles, all of whom you truly feel have entered the stage. With the noise of next door's performance and the rattling trains overhead, your attention could easily wander but Rosalind does a stellar job of keeping you engaged throughout. Her vocals are also gorgeous and an absolute treat to listen to.

Aside from the performance, the star of this show is the lovely music that is typically and gloriously French. Jack Miles and Rebecca Simmonds's songs completely embody French-cafe, pre/post war vibes and are so fitting to the story, with an especially wonderful scat section that really mirrors the freedom of art. A couple of the songs feel abruptly/imperfectly ended and could do with a slight rework but overall they're very smooth and the clever lyrics are so witty and compelling.

It's also impressive that there's a live four-piece band on stage, a sight not regularly seen at the Vaults, but Matt Herbert on keyboard, Rhiannon Hopkins on bass, Daniel Kemshell on guitar and Auguste Janonyte on violin do a great job and add even more to the feeling of being in France in the throngs of the creative, artistic circles.

For a 60-minute show, Rebecca Simmonds' book is surprisingly detailed and sleek; telling Marie-Berthe's story in a pacey fashion that never loses momentum or lacks emotion. From love to the pain of loss, a whole spectrum of life is explored and there's a wonderful celebration of fragility and putting yourself back together after you fall. Grace Taylor's direction allows the story to be told in a way that still feels free and spacious given the confines of the Vaults and Sorcha Corcoran's set design adds visual interest as well as mirroring the emotional turmoil on display in the piece.

All in all In Clay is a short, sweet, well-moulded show that with a few more tweaks on the potters wheel could be perfect. A great opener to the 2023 Vault Festival, it will be a treat to see how this musical progresses.

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}