Sun 25th – Tue 27th November 2012


Florence Strickland

at 02:44 on 27th Nov 2012



Premiered at The Royal Court, with much success, back in 2010 perhaps it was only a matter of time before Laura Wade’s ‘Posh’ came to Durham. The play features a certain dinner of the fictional Riot Club, which closely mirrors the antics of Oxford University’s notorious Bullingdon Club. Thinking the club to be a myth, I was recently proven wrong hearing a first-hand, bonafide story of members regularly dropping a casual £30,000 of an evening in Oxford nightclubs – a sum not to be scoffed at.

But for me, the question with this particular presentation would be whether the characterisations would be easily filled with available stereotypes or whether the rowdy bunch around the dinner table would distinguish themselves from each other beneath the provocative exterior of young men who are presented as feeling that they deserve anything – from girls to the Lebanon - simply by right. And, honestly, I think that with a play that's premise seems so simple, but really holds a large part of the key to the intricacies of British society today, the cast and crew of this production made an admirable effort.

‘Posh’, starts of hilariously, as the intimate and evocative setting of Castle’s Senate Suite provides the audience with a fly-on-the-wall experience. The audience burst out laughing at one liners such as, “girls for now, girls for later”, as Edward Hauschild, playing Guy, tries to play down his choice of girlfriend whose parents own a chain of newsagents – an undesirable profession, of course. Later on, “Coke and cocktails” is another favourite, the connotations of such pastimes asserting their all-important membership to the upper echelon of social hierarchy.

But later on I did begin to tire of the jokes and constant oblivious idiocies of most of the characters – hopefully being Wade’s ambition. Instead, towards the interval and for the rest of the second half, rather than laughing I became repulsed by The Riot Club’s behaviour. As the laughter subsided, Sam Kennerly as Alistair particularly raised the increasingly threatening tone of the play. His scathing snobbery developed towards plain thuggishness. His monologues really allowed him to dig to the depths of his character; one, which ended with “I fucking hate poor people”, being the most simply put but the most threatening of the entire play, delivered with absolute acerbic fury. His performance really drove the entire production to its finale.

Other notable performances were Charlie Warner as James, the least boorish of the bunch and Riot Club Principal, as well as the endearingly posh Joe Burke as George. Charlie Warner emphasised the intricacies of his character sensitively, playing on his desire to have fun with the rest of the boys, but refreshingly realistic in his perception of reality as well as the future. Indeed all performances were charming and revolting as required, but perhaps a few could have been revived with slightly more depth, rather than relying on the Bullingdon buzzwords such as, “shabby”, “mate” and often, “fuck”- or “cunt”, the two being interchangeable – to create their characters.

The political overtones resonate throughout the play. Some critics have gone as far as to compare the Riots of the summer in 2011 as being no different, conceptually, to the antics of the Bullingdon Boys themselves, of which David Cameron, Boris Johnson and George Osborne have all been able to call themselves. But if this is an extreme or pedantic comparison for some, through the efforts of this particular production team, we can see in Wade’s play that violent hooliganism can always get out of hand, whatever class one claims loyalty to, and whatever the perceived behaviour of that class may be.


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