With reports that some of our senior politicians were members of the Bullingden Club – the notorious student club which had a reputation for drunken room trashing – it’s not surprising that Laura Wade’s 2010 play Posh has struck a chord with many.
The play, which is being performed by members of Nottingham University’s New Theatre this week, is a searing satire about those who belong to such clubs – in this case the Riot Club – and the consequences of power without responsibility.
Inside the private dining room of a gastro pub, members of the Riot Club have gathered for their annual dinner. They are all wealthy students from Oxford University who are looking forward to a night of drinking and debauchery.
Despite their obnoxiousness the antics of the young men are very funny indeed. They are highly intelligent people and the dialogue is sharp and witty. They poke fun at each other and the quick-fire jokes are endless.
But lurking beneath the surface is something much darker. As the conversation becomes political, Alistair exclaims that he is ‘fed up of poor people’. The boys even feel that they are hard done by because the middle classes supposedly hold all the power and they bemoan the fact that they have to open up their mansions for visitors to look round. Meanwhile, their solution, if they get into trouble, is to throw money at the problem and hope that it goes away. As the night wears on a sort of tribal misogynism is revealed in their dealings with the prostitute and Rachel, who is the daughter of the pub landlord.
Eventually the inevitable happens and the members of the Riot Club trash the dining room – and I mean really trash it. Glasses fly, champagne fizzes, books are ripped and tables are overturned in this spectacular piece of theatre.
A tragic twist causes them to crash back down to reality but despite the ghastly incident there is a feeling that because of their status and who they know, they won’t have to suffer the consequences of their actions.
Overall, this is a fine production by some exceptionally talented students. The actors captured the bullish arrogance of the characters perfectly and managed to provide much hilarity, while also giving us something to think about.
Posh is on until Saturday. For tickets visit the New Theatre website.