Review: POSH at Duke of York’s theatre
10:29 30 May 2012
“This is a club for getting f**ked and f**king stuff up,” a new member is gleefully told about an elite dining Oxford dining club in Laura Wade’s revamped satire Posh.
Named after an 18th century lord, The Riot Club has been forced to cancel the past two terms’ meetings after a “scandal” in which a member admitted “enjoying” being part of it ended up in the Daily Mail and on YouTube.
Made up of 10 upper class undergraduates, the club has hired a room over a pub in which to carouse. When Posh was originally performed in 2010 it drew comparisons to Oxford’s Bullingdon Club, of which alumni include London mayor Boris Johnson and chancellor George Osborne.
The play is undoubtedly funny with lines such as: “I’m on thin ice,” answered by, “I am your skates”, and “this man keeps cheese in the fridge... for which he should be hanged.” One character admits he was mugged while trying to score cocaine because he told a man he took to be a tramp: “Sorry, I’ve got no change, only notes.”
But we are definitely laughing AT them, not WITH them.
There is good use of music too with 18th century portraits seemly come alive and singing and dancing to LMFAO’s I’m sexy and I know it, and a barber shop-style version of Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger.
But some of the humour is definitely black - Alistair Ryle (Leo Bill) yells: “I’m sick to death of poor people.” The landlord’s daughter Rachel (Jessica Ransom) is told she can earn an extra £300 by giving oral sex to all 10 members (pun intended).
And Posh definitely takes a darker turn when the group trashes the room to the tune of Wagner’s March of the Valkyries. When landlord Chris (Steffan Rhodri) has the temerity to complain, Alistair tells him to go away quietly, the club will pay him off later and “everyone will be happy”.
When Chris tells him he doesn’t want their money, Alistair calls his daughter a slapper, punches him to the floor and most of the other members join in the kicking that follows. They then try to work out who should take the blame. As the curtain comes down, we don’t know if Chris is alive or just unconscious.
In an epilogue Alistair meets a middle-aged former club member, now a lord, Jeremy (Simon Shepherd) who tells him events will be covered up for his own and the club’s good, and that the country needs people like him.
The implication that Britain is run by people like this is not lost on us.
Posh is at the Duke of York’s Theatre until August 4. For information, visit www.royalcourttheatre.com