Posh Review

Is democracy the fairest way to identify who’s fit to govern a country in a manner that delivers equal opportunities, welfare and justice for all?

Or just a ruse for a preening pack of over-privileged, pampered ponces to collectively ejaculate over an old book?

Laura Wade’s acclaimed Posh, now embarking on a West End run, would lean towards the latter of the two definitions. The play is about the Riot Club, a fictional elite University dining society based on the notorious and exclusive Bullingdon Club; this country’s finishing school for the coalitions’ finest landed gentry.

The society’s modus operandi is to get utterly “châteaued” before wrecking the joint with officer class precision.

“I am just fucking sick of poor people” roars Leo Bill’s Riot Club thug Alistair at the climax of a superbly delivered, vile speech at the end of Posh’s first act. His ire directed at the gastropub host of their latest club outing for only managing to source nine birds in their “ten bird” roast as their main course.

This failure to properly adhere to the fowl instruction of party organiser ‘Bell-end’ Bellingfield is interpreted by the now rather squiffy Riot club members as a proletarian uprising with the general air of working class resentment quickly turning dark.

It’s difficult to recall a work of fiction having such topical political value. Whether they like it or not, our current governing elite are drawn from such an exclusive and archaic club; a fact that leaves them open to such satire.

Especially during a recession brought about by the corrupt and immoral behaviour of the wealthy minority.

One almost expects Lord Leveson to waltz on, stage left, and start up another of his enquiries.

The rich source material is a little like shooting fish in a barrel for any decent scriptwriter, but this doesn’t deflect from the quality of the razor sharp dialogue in Posh.

Lyndsey Turner’s direction and staging is clever throughout, with pompous portraits in the oak panelled backdrop of the opening scene provide a neat segue into the dining room for the play’s main course.
This is achieved via one of many amusing a capella R ‘n’ B songs performed by the cast, and a cute nod to the modern day Sloaney tendency to hijack hip hop culture.

No doubt Simon Cowell would sign the handsome cast up in a heartbeat and market them as a cross between Westlife, The Wu-Tang Clan and a House of Commons select committee.

The ensemble cast perform excellently and, despite the impression I may have given, a lot of the characters are actually rather likeable. Richard Goulding stands out as the biggest upper class twit of the group, channelling the bumbling Bo-Jo to good comic effect.

Credibility is stretched somewhat as the chaps grow ever more feral, and there are too many musical interruptions for my liking, but Posh is an excellently conceived and executed play.

As to whether the behaviour of the Riot club mimics that of the illustrious Bullingdon alumni, I guess we’ll never know.

Frankly, I like the idea of our prime minister getting absolutely hammered and pissing out of a window because the toilets are a bit too far away.

At least that’s a politician I can identify with.

Frank Gardiner

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June 2012
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