Posh (play)

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Posh
Written by Laura Wade
Characters 14
Date premiered 2010
Royal Court Theatre in London
Original language English
Genre Drama

Posh, a play by the British playwright Laura Wade, was first staged at the Royal Court Theatre downstairs in 2010.[1] The play concerns an Oxford student dining club called "The Riot Club", a fictionalised version of the Bullingdon Club. The first production, produced during the British General Election, received a lot of attention and favourable if wary reviews, including five stars from Time Out magazine. In February 2011 there were three amateur productions: by the University of Manchester Drama Society at the John Thaw Studio, by Queen's University Players at the Brian Friel Theatre and by the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club at the ADC, the very first amateur production.

Plot[edit]

Ten members of "The Riot Club", an exclusive Oxford University dining club, have rented out a country pub's dining room for their termly dinner. Their president, James, who is about to leave university, is falling out of love with the club and promises the suspicious landlord Chris and his waitress daughter Rachel that he will keep things under control. While James avoids his presidential duties, others vie for his position. Inspired by his godfather Jeremy, a former Riot Club member and now a Tory MP, Guy tries to impress the boys with a "ten bird roast'. Others are less restrained; one has hired Charlie the prostitute. When Charlie arrives she refuses to get under the table and perform oral sex on the boys; they are surprised at her scruples.

As the members get more drunk and rowdy their bullying of each other and of Chris and Rachel gets worse. They try to force Rachel to kiss them all; she runs out and they wreck the room. Chris bursts in outraged and the members assault him, knocking him out. Horrified, they panic and bar the door, despite the landlord being seriously hurt. Eventually they all agree to pin the blame on Alistair, who has consistently riled them throughout the night. They agree that, as they will all end up being successful, they will look after Alistair after university and make sure they 'see him right'. They open the door to the distraught Rachel and allow her to call an ambulance.

Weeks later Alistair meets with Jeremy, who has successfully managed to weaken the charge against Alistair and effectively get him off the hook. Intrigued by Alistair's politics, Jeremy promises Alistair that he will be keeping a close eye on Alistair in future and that he has high hopes for him.

Cast[edit]

Character Original Cast, 2010 West End Cast, 2012
Director Lyndsey Turner[2] Lyndsey Turner
Jeremy (an MP) Simon Shepherd Simon Shepherd
Chris Daniel Ryan Steffan Rhodri
Rachel Fiona Button Jessica Ransom
Charlie Charlotte Lucas Charlotte Lucas
Alistair Ryle Leo Bill Leo Bill
Toby Maitland Jolyon Coy Jolyon Coy
Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt David Dawson Pip Carter
Guy Bellingfield Joshua McGuire Joshua McGuire
George Balfour Richard Goulding Richard Goulding
Harry Villiers Harry Hadden-Paton Max Bennett
Ed Montgomery Kit Harington Harry Lister Smith
Dimitri Mitropoulos Henry Lloyd-Hughes Henry Lloyd-Hughes
James Leighton-Masters Tom Mison Tom Mison
Miles Richards James Norton Edward Killingback

Premiere[edit]

The Royal Court production opened during the 2010 UK election and garnered much attention for its timely portrayal of an Oxford University dining club which might be seen as a parody of the real life Bullingdon Club. A number of prominent Tory politicians have been members of The Bullingdon, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osbourne and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

The production's scene changes were marked by the Riot Club's a cappella renditions of current popular music such as Wearing My Rolex by the grime rapper Wiley; the music was arranged by James Fortune.

West End Production[edit]

In 2012 the Royal Court production of the show was revived in the West End at the Duke of York's Theatre with several cast changes. The script was updated, including references to the coalition government which had since come to power and a slight recharacterisation of James Leighton-Masters in line with current events. The a cappella renditions of songs were also updated, this time including LMFAO's Sexy and I Know It.

Subsequent Productions[edit]

The Irish premiere of the play, by the Queen's University Players, the drama society of the Queen's University of Belfast, played two sell-out audiences at the Brian Friel Theatre. Another sell-out show followed at the Druid Lane Theatre in Galway, for which the production was awarded the 2011 Irish Student Drama Award for Best Ensemble. The production was also nominated for five other ISDAs, including Best Play, Best Director (Adam Turns), Best Supporting Actor (Anton Thompson-McCormick), Best Lighting Design (Ciara McCafferty) and Best Costume Design (Dot Kelly).

Reception[edit]

Both London productions received generally favourable reviews; the ensemble was well praised with some reviewers comparing the young male cast to the original cast of The History Boys by Alan Bennett. Some reviews criticised what they saw as an unbelievable ending, but the play received four stars from nearly all the major publications and five from Time Out. Posh was nominated as Best New Play at both the Evening Standard Awards and Theatregoers' Choice Awards in 2011.

References[edit]