Review: Posh, Royal Court
The Royal Court has been a breeding ground for successful West End transfers (Jerusalem and Enron to name just two) so I've been scouring the schedule for potential gems to catch before they go big and expensive and plumped for Posh by young playwright Laura Wade.
I'm not sure it is quite in the same league as Enron (which I saw in the West End) and Jerusalem (which I've heard a lot about) but it certainly shows that Wade is a talent to watch.
Posh is set around one evening where an elite Oxford dining club - called The Riot Club - are meeting for one of their infamous dining and drinking events. The Riot Club's forte is trashing the host venue for after-dinner entertainment and then leaving large sums of cash behind to cover the costs.
Thanks to a conversation with Adam last night I now know that the Riot Club is in fact based on the real life Bullingdon Club which lists current Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson among its alumni. Nice.
The play is in fact very funny. Full of witty banter and put downs and, well, very posh people being very posh - Big Brother could learn a thing or or two.
But there is a dark edge to some of the comedy. As the drunkeness increases, the second half moves from the clever and funny poetry and their own version of musical chairs - Chelsea Trots - toward the inevitable room trash things start to ripple out of control.
Waitress Rachel is forced to kiss Miles as part of a game and later her father Chris, the landlord, suspecting that something is wrong, confronts the group with violent consequences.
Posh made laugh to the point of snorting me but is also quite disturbing. I can't comment on how well observed the language and general behaviour is having never moved in such circles but it feels well observed.
Its well acted and staged with acappella versions of modern songs used as interludes between course changes at the dinner. I particularly liked David Dawson as Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt for his rousing poetry performance.
The play finished its run last night so we'll just have to see if it gets picked up by one of the West End theatres.
And here's some other views which are no doubt infinitely better written than my own:
The Daily Telegraph's Charles Spencer who went to Oxford but points out he wasn't a member of the Bullingdon club gave it four stars saying: "Wade captures the tribal language, the joshing and later the maudlin gibbering of these young blades with a maliciously sharp ear."
Aleks Sierz over at The Stage thought it a timely piece of drama in the run up to the election: With its excellent music, thanks to James Fortune, and sharply-drawn climaxes, this is a satirical, humorous and finally chilling view of the upper classes - and a really fine metaphor for our times
And the West End Whingers although finding flaws still thought it a "theatrical delight" and gave it four glasses of red out of five