Ten Oxford students. Three dinner courses. One club. But it isn’t any normal university society, this is the Riot Club, an elitist dining society, exclusive to those with only the bluest of blood and the largest of wallets. Gathering together for one of their infamous dinner parties, what at first seems like a typical (though extremely toffish) lad’s club social, slowly takes a darker more twisted turn. Based loosely on the real life Oxford Bullingdon Club, whose past members include David Cameron and George Osborne, Posh aims to examine the dark underbelly of privilege and to criticise the uneven power structure that governs our society.
It is within the single set of the private dining room of the Bulls Head Inn, the audience are introduced to the ten members of the Riot Club. Coming together with a chorus of posh tones and dressed like 18th century aristocrats, they at first seem to represent a light hearted parody of the stereotypes of the upper class. And let’s face it – hearing posh people swear is funny. It just is. However as we head steadily towards the interval, the comedy takes darker and darker twists, eventually spiralling out of control. Member Alistair Ryle (Jordan Metcalf) is a main instigator of this, worming his way into the group psyche with his twisted ideology of entitlement. ‘I’m sick to f**king death of poor people!’ Metcalf spits with venom at the peak of his performance and sparks the descent into violence and chaos.
While the acting throughout was superb, and the plot upheld a good balance between comedic and darkly thought provoking, at times the play did veer too much towards the ridiculous. One scene where the spirit of Lord Riot supposedly possesses member Toby Maitland (Tom Clegg) was quite frankly laughable, and was a complete departure from the realism of the play. At times the ‘rah’ attitude displayed by the boys was also slightly over the top and had the potential to feel forced.
The staging of the play was very well done, portraying a very naturalist stage depicting every small detail of the inside of the plush dining room. The only problem with this, however, was that the table, although placed at the most open angle possible, still meant that some of the actors were blocked from view and sometimes had their backs to the audience. The constant movement of the actors throughout the production meant that this was only a slight problem, as they never remained too long in a blocked position.
Comedic yet disturbing, Posh is certainly a very intriguing show. With its light hearted capers juxtaposed with a shocking violent conclusion the play asks interesting political questions and makes us think – who is really running our society?
Edited by Harriet Dunlea