When Posh originally opened at the Royal Court during the General Election of 2010, it felt like a metaphorical prediction of how a Tory government might run riot and lay waste a whole country. Now in the West End, and updated with numerous references to the current coalition government, the play is an equally timely study of class, power and masculinity.
A scene from Posh at the Duke Of Yorks Theatre, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
Set almost entirely during a meeting of the Riot Club, a group of ten posh Oxford university boys dedicated to wining, dining and smashing up the gastropub in which they find themselves, the story focuses on male competitiveness and class resentment, and resounds with a braying sense of privilege. By the end of this wild night, it is the ordinary local people - chiefly the pub landlord Chris and his daughter Rachel - who have to pay the price for these antics.
Partly inspired by the Bullingdon Club, whose members have over the years included David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson, Posh explores the group dynamics of frustrated males as well as addressing the roots of the anger felt by an aristocratic class which no longer enjoys the respect it feels entitled to. It also shows how British politics is based on powerful secret networks.
Director Lyndsey Turner and designer Anthony Ward remount their 2010 production, which is now much sharper, stronger and blessed by much of its original 14-strong cast.
Wade’s writing sparkles darkly with insight and wit, and Turner’s powerful production has some memorable scene changes orchestrated by musical director James Fortune. Posh’s analysis of the latent violence of class antagonism is satirical, grimly hilarious and richly symbolic - it’s a terrific piece of new writing.