Writer: Laura Wade
Director: Lucy Hughes
Reviewer: Abbie Rippon
First staged during the 2010 General Election, Laura Wade’s Posh is a parody or maybe even a reflection of Oxford University’s Bullingdon Club (whose known members have included David Cameron, George Osborne and current PM Boris Johnson). An elite dining club of ten members, bright young men from the higher echelons of the social classes, who get together once a term to enjoy an evening of decadence and revelry.
But the club is so much more than that. Represented in the play as the Riot Club, named after Lord Riot, is a group of young men with titles to inherit, whose families know the ‘right’ people. They are young men with fathers, uncles or godfathers who have been previous members of this elite club, they feel it is their destiny to one day play their part in running the country.
You’ve got to love to hate them.
Posh by name and posh by nature, these boys (for ‘boys’ are what they are) possess a spoilt, self-righteous nature and lack of responsibility which will leave them acting like boys through their thirties, forties and fifties when the excuses of youth and foolishness will no longer stand and will be replaced by well-payed lawyers.
The young actors who play the ten club members work well together, there’s great pace to their raillery and the performance is engaging and enjoyable with the audience feeling like a fly on the wall at the clubs termly dinner. A handful of the cast can’t quite get away with being posh enough. Something in the way they hold themselves, their accent, tone, the slightly ill-fitting look of their waistcoats and tails doesn’t quite ring true. But their performances are energetic and often daring so this is forgivable.
Jack Whittle is fabulously horrid as Harry Milliers, with his reputation as a sex-crazed toff who thinks he can have any woman he wants. The scene between Whittle and Ellie Nun, who plays Charlie, the lady of the night, is particularly engaging. Wade was on the mark when she wrote this beautiful moment highlighting that every woman, no matter their vocation, can stand up to a man, even if his daddy is a lord and he has a wallet full of fifties.
Joseph Tyler Todd and Adam Mirsky as George Balfour and Guy Bellingfild have a certain aristocratic charm, the slight oddballs in the group. Bellingfield striving for status and success, and Balflour, docile and inelegant, their performances add real colour to the mixing pot of arrogance and entitlement on stage.
It could be so easy to put a set of complete stereotypes on stage for this production, but the cast, along with director Lucy Hughes have brought out the individual traits of each member of the Riot Club. We might want to tarnish them all with the same brush, but it’s difficult to do so as every actor brings something unique to their character and performance.
Posh is as relevant now as it was when it was first written, it will undoubtedly remain relevant in the years to come. While a micro-percentage of the UK’s population are in charge of our country’s destiny, it makes you question who has the right to lead us into the future. Do those born into wealth and status have the empathy and breadth of understanding to know what’s best for the rest of us? It makes me wonder…
Runs until 26 October 2109 | Image: Contributed