Posh (play)

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Written byLaura Wade
Date premiered2010
Royal Court Theatre in London
Original languageEnglish

Posh is a play by the British playwright Laura Wade. It 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 favourable reviews.


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 outrage and the members assault him, knocking him out. Horrified, they panic and bar the door, despite the landlord being seriously hurt. Hugo calls an ambulance, much to everyone else's discontent. 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 the ambulance approaches.

Weeks later Alistair meets with Jeremy, who has 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 him in future and that he has high hopes for him.


Character Original Cast, 2010 West End Cast, 2012 Regional Premiere Cast, 2015 Original All-Female Cast, 2017 Vancouver, 2017 UK tour, 2019
Director Lyndsey Turner[2] Lyndsey Turner Susannah Tresilian[3] Cressida Carré Allyson Fournier Lucy Hughes
Jeremy (an MP) Simon Shepherd Simon Shepherd Laurence Kennedy Sarah Thom Michael Shewchuk Simon Rhodes
Chris Daniel Ryan Steffan Rhodri Neil Caple Sarah Thom Michael Shewchuk Peter McNeil O'Connor
Rachel Fiona Button Jessica Ransom Charlotte Brimble Toni Peach Mariela Shuley Isobel Laidler
Charlie Charlotte Lucas Charlotte Lucas Joanne Evans Toni Peach Caroline Doyle Ellie Nunn
Alistair Ryle Leo Bill Leo Bill Jordan Metcalfe Serena Jennings Riaan Smit Tyger Drew-Honey
Toby Maitland Jolyon Coy Jolyon Coy Tom Clegg Molly Hanson Cole Howard Matthew Entwistle
Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt David Dawson Pip Carter Tom Hanson Lucy Aarden Kevin Hatch Ollie Appleby
Guy Bellingfield Joshua McGuire Joshua McGuire Philip Labey Amani Zardoe Jake Sheardown Adam Mirsky
George Balfour Richard Goulding Richard Goulding Jamie Satterthwaite Macy Nyman Thomas Van Kalken Joseph Tyler Todd
Harry Villiers Harry Hadden-Paton Max Bennett Robbie Jarvis Alice Brittain Kelly McCabe Jack Whittle
Ed Montgomery Kit Harington Harry Lister Smith Kaffe Keating Verity Kirk Dylan Leonard Taylor Mee
Dimitri Mitropoulos Henry Lloyd-Hughes Henry Lloyd-Hughes Simon Haines Cassie Bradley David Z. Cohen Jamie Littlewood
James Leighton-Masters Tom Mison Tom Mison Tom Palmer Gabby Wong Tim Howe Chris Born
Miles Richards James Norton Edward Killingback Dario Coates Jessica Siân Tristan Smith George Prentice


The Royal Court production opened during the 2010 UK general 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 Conservative politicians have been members of The Bullingdon, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne 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.

All-Female Production[edit]

A groundbreaking revival of the play was staged at London’s Pleasance Theatre in March 2017, directed by Cressida Carré and starring Cassie Bradley.[4] It saw a cast of women occupying the 12 roles usually played by men. The play was performed as it was initially written by Wade, using the male names and the “he” pronoun. The playwright, Laura Wade, said: “It’s always interesting to see a new cast take on Posh, but it’ll be fascinating to see what light an all-female company can throw on the play’s world of power and privilege. I’m often asked what Posh would have been like if there were women in the Riot Club instead of men. Perhaps now I get to find out.”

The All-Female Production received critical acclaim as a thought-provoking gender experiment.[5]

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).[citation needed]

In February 2015 the regional premiere was co-produced by Nottingham Playhouse and Salisbury Playhouse, directed by Susannah Tresilian.[6]

Film adaptation[edit]

The Riot Club, a film adaptation of the play, directed by Lone Scherfig,[7] was released in 2014.[8]


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.


  1. ^ Posh at The Royal Court
  2. ^ Cast Announcement, Royal Court
  4. ^ "Posh by Laura Wade". Posh by Laura Wade. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  5. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/reviews/posh-review-pleasance-theatre-a7666056.html
  6. ^ Snow, Georgia (31 October 2014). "Posh leads Nottingham Playhouse's spring 2015 season". The Stage. Nottingham. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  7. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2717860/
  8. ^ de Semlyen, Phil (13 May 2014). "New Trailer For The Riot Club". Empire. Bauer Consumer Media. Retrieved 14 May 2014.