In Clay - The Vaults
A charming new musical takes shape at the Vaults
Awaiting the arrival of her oldest friend, Marie is left reminiscing about the moments in her life that brought her here - the love, the betrayal and most importantly the art. Based on a true story, this new musical from Rebecca Simmonds and Jack Miles traces the fascinating life of French painter and potter Marie-Berthe Cazin - a tale not widely known.
Rosalind Ford’s portrayal of Marie is quaint and likeable, swiftly leading us into the story of her life. Ford’s voice is delightfully accurate, weaving through the gracefully clever lyrics, ensuring as an audience we never fall behind despite contending with the Waterloo trains trundling overhead. She sings of being spotted by renowned artist Jean-Charles Cazin after he sees that she has the “talent,” - allowing herself to become excited about her future and of course rehearsing her serious artist face. As she strives to find her medium she grows closer to fellow budding artists, Henrietta (the friend she is now waiting for), and the son of her mentor, Jean-Michel (her future husband) before turbulences hit in unexpected and toilsome ways.
Underpinning this production is of course the music, composed by Jack Miles, with Parisian-scented melodies that would feel equally comfortable in the world of Amélie as they do here. The numbers are sharp, witty and packed with the potential to become instant earworms after a single listen. The live band is highly effective in emphasising tension and underscoring the emotions Marie is experiencing as she recalls her stories. The book works hard to cover as much of Marie’s long life in the hour runtime and left me wanting to know more about this determined and stoic woman, to further rescue her story from patriarchal dominated history.
This production under the arches is very much a showcase of potential for the new musical, one that producers and programmers need to be alerted to. A capable creative team is sculpting something special here, something that has the capacity to fill large spaces and charm audience after audience. One to watch.
Running until 11 March at The Vault Festival - Tickets