The Vaults, London – until 18 March 2018
A nippy little thing this, Lock and Key. A new musical from writing duo Barlow & Smith, a couple of cracking musical theatre actresses in Tiffany Graves and Evelyn Hoskins, and the sweaty intimacy of the Pit, one of the Vault Festival’s less hospitable spaces. It all adds up to something really rather entertaining.
Set in the children’s literature department of a publishing firm, office junior Jess is doing everything she can to impress boss Samantha as the end of her probationary period fast approaches. She’s even missing her birthday party in order to seize a key opportunity but she soon finds out that that is not all she will have to sacrifice to make it to the top.
Billed as a workplace thriller, Adam Lenson’s production flirts with B-movie horror as something of an enjoyable schlockfest emerges. Talking teddy bears and outright gore sit alongside an exploration of modern office culture in AC Smith’s book, which pulls no punches in exposing the hollowness ingrained in much of what is measured as ‘success’.
And Bella Barlow’s score impressively weaves together a range of influences to create a lively and cohesive score that is nagging away at earworm territory. Hoskins is superb as the dryly funny Jess, apparently unable to resist any temptation, and Graves excels at the unexpected emotional range of Samantha. Plus there’s holepuncher snow which, as anyone who has ever worked as an administrator will tell you, is a pleasure akin to popping bubble wrap.