The one were Posh people don't say Totes because its degrading?
By the interval of The Royal Court’s West End transfer of Posh by Laura Wade, my flatmate leant over to ask, “Pete, are you alright?” and the truth was, I wasn’t. In fact throughout the course of the act one I had become more and more anxious and nervous as the elaborate characters played out before me. The tension within the writing moved as an undercover sleuth as to the viewer what could possibly go wrong about a play set around a dinner table. This however didn’t help me try to second guess the action as line by line seemed to slot into place with an outcome that could be played out.
What added to the building anxiety is that this production comes from a truth, with links to the wealthiest men, and those on stage in “The Ryott Club” not too dissimilar to that of a dinner club our very own Prime minister and London Mayor were once members, the notorious Bullingdon Club. After watching the production and researching, my thoughts only became more confused that actually, and rather naively there is a world out there, where this kind of behaviour in the great aristocracies actually exists. When we thing of trashing restaurants or hotel suites, we instantly refer to the low waged, or unemployed for such antics yet the difference is that once the “riot” has occurred, the wallets come out to compensate and repay for all damages.
As the writer, Laura Wade has created a wonderful pastiche of real characters, giving us a glimpse into a lifestyle. Obviously their mannerisms are slightly dramatized but the humour of the piece comes from the language of the character. For example the stereotype would believe the music of choice would be Mozart and Tchaikovsky yet the opening number to LMFAO’s “I’m sexy and I know it” with vocals in plumb voices, not only makes you realise that everyone listens to modern chart music, and also aides to bring the setting of the piece to current day. The fantastic routine which see’s Anthony Ward’s design of oil paintings come alive as these young rich men prance and lure the audience to a sense of insecurity and feeling that “We’re one of you guys”.
Director Lyndsey Turner manages the ten “loveable rogues” and presents real life qualities of the Riot Club. It would be easy to exploit the stereotype of the Oxbridge elite, but the real people before you add the building tension of what happens when the rules of the dinner state you have to down your drink on every toast, no one can leave the room, and if you need to vomit you must do so in a bag. The first few moments of the scene establish these various regulations and set up nicely through the use of a new member, Harry Lister Smith played by Ed Montgomery who allows the audience to catch up with this group as he tries so desperately to make the right impression.
Throughout the meal various characters are introduced who create the every day, The Landlord, played by the fantastic Steffan Rhodri, his daughter, and a prostitute. I spent the act after listening to the dinner talk wondering which one of these characters would ultimately fall foul to these “hoodies in tuxedos”. I won’t go into the finer detail of the explosion that occurs as act two draws to a close, but after an impassioned speech by Alistair Ryle, played superbly by Leo Bill, as he snaps at the fact the class system always favours the poor or the middle and the top are always the enemy.
The play is truly wonderful, with a perception of the upper class rife the piece humorously presents several arguments of a side of life society wouldn’t listen to essentially, blared by the ideal of “you have money so shut up”. It’s an incredible concept that encouraged great debate, but for myself that idea that such behaviour should exist is slightly astonishing, yet worryingly you can perhaps understand it. General the moaning of money and always being short is of common conversational topic within my peers, they were disgruntled that they were forever left to foot the bill, they had to surrender to the National Trust for all to see their homes, and if they had the money why couldn’t they buy things and have it their way.
(spot David Cameron & Boris Johnson)
The conclusion of act two leaves you satisfied after the build up but only left me wanting to know more, the meeting of two characters at the curtain deliberately left wide open. The performance is a tight unit of ten fantastic interpretations, also forming as an acappella group of find vocal form to aide scene changes and passing of time, the men present light relief with a host of well known modern hits from the chart, including Maroon 5 “Move’s Like Jagger”.
What lures with the sense of comedy and security only turns nasty and brutal as the class of societies is presented in a less familiar way. Watching many theatre productions often leaves you desensitised but this production really woke up my theatrical appetite in a performance that will stay with me for some time.