Theatre Review: Posh - Duke Of York's Theatre, London ✭✭✭✭✭

Duke Of York's Theatre

Tuesday 5th June: Laura Wade’s 2010 play Posh was one of the Royal Court’s most successful productions of all time, selling out every night in its initial run and receiving excellent reviews across the board. If you missed the play the first time round, there’s a chance to see it again now at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End, where it has been given an update to reflect our current times whilst still retaining many of its superb original cast members. Initially written just before the last general election which resulted in the Tory-led coalition, the play’s themes of power and privilege are just as relevant now, particularly after the recent rumblings in the media regarding the affluent backgrounds of many of our leading politicians.

The play depicts a meeting of the ‘Riot Club’, a fictional Oxford University dining society similar to the notorious Bullingdon Club, whose young, wealthy members meet once a term to eat well, drink copiously, and wreak havoc upon their surroundings. As the fine wine flows and the conversation becomes more heated, tensions build amongst the club members and the owner of the pub until they erupt in a shocking, violent finale.

The skill with which Wade turned the audience’s emotions around as the play progressed was remarkable, with the hilarity and high jinks of the first act given a darker undercurrent by the show’s sobering conclusion. The young men’s movement from comic bluster to braying arrogance to animalistic violence to terrified, childlike weeping was breathless and shocking, and superbly conveyed by both writer and actors. Wade has also expertly captured the boyish banter and idiom of this age group – their repeated use of ‘savage’ for approval and ‘chateaued’ to mean drunk were particularly amusing, as were their hilariously childish drinking games and subsequent forfeits. The play also contains some brilliant song and dance routines, in which the actors break away from the dinner table to perform a handful of current chart hits, each with their own ‘posh’ twist.

The cast were, without exception, excellent, although special mention has to go to Harry Lister Smith as the floppy-haired newest member of the club, who is reprimanded by the others for using the word ‘totes’ – ‘you sound like a parody of yourself’ –and provided laughs throughout with his adorably wide-eyed, over-enthusiastic demeanour. Richard Goulding was also superb as the club president’s slightly bumbling number two, particularly in his hilarious delivery of the tale of his disastrous attempt to secure the evening’s drug supply; whilst Leo Bill impressed as the terrifying, rage-filled ringleader, whose ‘bright future’ at the end of the play is shockingly at odds with what he has done.

All in all, this was an excellent evening’s entertainment and I really can’t recommend it highly enough. Powerful, brutal, simultaneously hilarious and horrifying; Posh is an absolute ‘savage’ must-see.


Review by Emma Curry

LONDON LISTINGS INFORMATION – Royal Court at the Duke of York’s Theatre

Dates:  Friday 11 May to Saturday 4 August 2012

Performances: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm. Saturday and Wednesday matinees at 2.30pm

Ticket prices: £15-£52.50. 20 
best price seats at £10 each, available in person only, at the box office from 10am
on the day of the performance. Concessions and group discounts apply (Students £25 on Wednesday
matinees / Seniors £32.50 Monday to Thursday in advance, £29.50 on the door). See website for full details.

Access Performances: Audio-Described: Saturday 30th June 2.30pm
Captioned: Wednesday 11th July 7.30pm

Address: Duke of York’s Theatre, St. Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4BG

Box Office: 0844 871 7623*

Royal Court Theatre Box Office: 020 7565 5000*
*Booking fees apply