Posh is a play written by Laura Wade, first performed in 2010. It centres on a group of male Oxford University students in elite all-male dining club known as the “Riot Club”. Drinking, hedonism and bad behaviour are nothing new to anyone who has experienced university life, but these students also have the kind of wealth that most can only dream of.
The club has a bad reputation and are barred from many venues. President James (played by Alec Boaden) books a country pub out of town, though he’s clearly tiring of the antics. Several new members are eager to stake their claim to his position. Guy (Ramy Ben-Fredj) consults his uncle, a prominent MP and former club member, about the best way to shine and plans a 10-bird roast as the main course. Harry makes a call and gets a prostitute to visit the venue. Dimitri (Joe Kinch) plans an after-dinner trip to Iceland (the country not the supermarket) on his private jet. It’s all excessive debauched one-upmanship from immature boys with deep pockets. If it had been written a few years later there would doubtless have been a pigs head involved too.
None of their plans quite work out, primarily because the venue staff, Chris (Cainaan Skeels) and his daughter Laura (Elissa Reynolds), are so unhappy with the group’s behaviour they repeatedly ask them to leave. Eventually a scuffle takes place and all ten group members pile in on Chris and leave him hospitalised. However, Alistair (played like a teenage Richard E Grant by Jake Dunn) has been baiting the group the entire evening and throws the first punch. When the time to take the blame comes we see the ‘all for one’ camaraderie of the group disappear and he’s nominated by the other nine members to take the blame when the police arrive.
This play was written at a time when David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson; all prominent alumni of the real-life version, the Bullingdon Club, were running - some would say ruining - our country. It’s not a particularly large stretch to make the connection. As director Alison Rashley said in her programme notes “Posh is not a word often associated with Nottingham’s Television Workshop." The play is brilliantly staged and the entire cast shine.
The Television Workshop 2019 Season continues with Brave New World on 19-23 March.