By Alison Smith
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This article is over 9 years, 7 months old
Writer Laura Wade
Duke of York's Theatre, London
Issue 370

Laura Wade’s play Posh started life at the Royal Court Theatre in the months before the last general election. Looking back it can be seen as a warning.

This play, updated for its latest run, has lost none of its edge. It is still a poignant and humorous examination of the elite currently ruling Britain.

The play focuses on a dinner party meeting of the fictitious Riot Club – which is modelled on the infamous Bullingdon Club of which Boris Johnson, David Cameron and George Osborne were all members. The Rioters rent out a private room in a country club under the name Young Entrepreneurs and go through some of their antiquated traditions and toasts.

As they get more and more drunk and rowdy they start bullying both Chris, the pub landlord, and his daughter, Rachel. This culminates in a rather horrifying climax.

What Laura Wade does brilliantly is create characters that are at once repulsive and charming. This is what makes this such a marvellous piece of theatre. In their attitude to both women and vandalism they hold the same sort of nuanced attitude as the real ruling class.

The men are superficially considerate, while happily later calling women whores. As the group of diners slowly begin to turn on each other the mask of camaraderie and friendship slips away and we see how self-serving and self-interested they really are.

Wade’s characters are totally believable. That these rich men can be humorous and at times even likeable makes the play and its final outcome even more sinister.

What I most enjoyed about this production was the audience response. The comments I heard as people left the theatre were not of shock or surprise, but anger. No one questioned the idea that old Etonians could commit such atrocious acts.

It is this heightened sense of class consciousness that has come about since the Tories came back to power that has led someone like Laura Wade, who claims not to be particularly political, to write such a fierce critique of Britain’s so-called elite.

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