Posh at the Pleasance TheatreCultureTheatre
Banished to the arse-end of nowhere, ten young bloods with cut-glass vowels and deep pockets are meeting in secret. This isn’t Young Enterprise, this is The Riot Club. And how riotous they plan to be. These little boys in tailcoats haven’t let off steam in months. A termly catharsis of sorts, where they exercise themselves of beastly behaviour, these “gentlemen” leave a trail of destruction in their wake before gleefully throwing money at it. There is little in life that cannot be solved by cold, hard cash. Or so it seems.
Originally staged in 2010, Laura Wade’s world of power and privilege is reimagined by director Cressida Carré, who brings new life to the masterpiece with a first-time all-female cast. Initially timed to run parallel with the general election, seven years on and Carré’s Posh is once again uniquely relevant with Teresa May in power. The script, however, remains as written, including male names and references. Less about women playing men and more about fulfilling the same societal roles that men play, this revival gives women the opportunity to step into roles that are rarely, if ever, written for them – both on stage and in real life.
Walking the line between drag and caricature, the actors’ portrayal of men is somewhat inconclusive. Slouching and thrusting, bawdy and boisterous, the performers’ scathing exposé of one-percenters seems to be a swipe at men in general. Overly enthusiastic club newcomer Ed Montgomery steals the show, though, with a performance by Verity Kirk that begs compassion as well as raucous laughter.
Evoking with it all the mournful chiaroscuro of one million Vanitas paintings, Sara Perks’s charred black walls and sparse dining room sets a bleak tone from the off. A sporadically spinning stage staves off monotony, offering a 360 degree view of the action, though unfortunately, an over-reliance on strobe lighting has the audience casting their eyes down to avoid seizures, epileptic or not.
Darkly funny and revoltingly smug, Posh calls into question whether generations of careful breeding gives way to moral uncertainty as well as a grotesque and unquestioning entitlement. Though not exactly carving out meaty roles for women on the stage, now, in the current turbulent landscape of women’s rights, the all-female cast answers a clarion call that is echoed, from boardrooms to bedrooms, all over the world today.
Photo: Darren Bell
Posh is at the Pleasance Theatre from 29th March until 22nd August 2017. Book your tickets here.