Theatre Review - In Clay

Rosalind Ford as Marie-Berthe Cazin

THERE’S a new team Upstairs at the Gatehouse – Annlouise Butt and Isaac Bernier-Doyle. Their second production – a one-woman musical, book and lyrics by Rebecca Simmonds, music and lyrics by Jack Miles – comes complete with a pottery exhibition in the Green Room curated by Rose Gleadell.

Co-produced with Design and Canvas Co, In Clay first played at the VAULT festival in 2023. Inspired by the life of Marie-Berthe Cazin, an early 20th-century French ceramicist whose work was misattributed to her husband, the show explores a career devoted to making art.

Marie-Berthe (Rosalind Ford reprising her role) reflects on her passion for making pots, her ambition and artistic rivalry. Her work is eclipsed by that of her husband, Michel Cazin, until he loses his life in the First World War, and her friend Henriette Tirman, a Post-Impressionist painter.

There’s much to admire, not least Ford’s compelling performance, her energy and vocal range. She even throws a pot on stage, live, while singing. No mean feat.

A predominantly female creative team includes the writer (Simmonds), director Grace Taylor and designer Rachel Ryan. Eleanor Walsh is an alternate Marie-Berthe. The exhibition features the work of 20 contemporary women artists working with clay.

Such care has been lavished on this small-scale production, it’s no surprise to learn that it has been nominated for six Off West End awards, including Best Production.

The music is superb, with witty lyrics, and the lively house band (led by Matt Herbert) are a joy, while Ryan’s cluttered design brilliantly evokes a Parisian artist’s studio.

In Clay runs at 90 minutes without an interval and heralds an exciting new era for this pub theatre powerhouse. Don’t miss.

Until April 7

Originally published by Camden New Journal