Friday, 30 March 2012

POSH - coming in May

The Royal Court Theatre takes POSH back to the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, from Friday 11 May to Sat 4 August and booking is already brisk for the opening month.

An elite set of Oxford students arrange a private drinking party and startling events ensue.

If staged badly this could be a crude piece of Conservative-bashing propaganda but staged properly it can be a much more complex play, so let's hope the Royal Court rise to the challenge. 

I had the advantage of seeing it at Cambridge, performed by Cambridge students with special insight in to the script. Yes, there is some chippy caricature but they also managed to breathe sympathy in to the behind-each-other's-back stabbing, the ragging - some of it downright hostile - and the insecurity of a generation who cannot rely on the automatic entitlements they once thought the world owed them.   It's also farcically funny at points as this uber-group see their plans for the event work out in a way not necessarily to their advantage. 

An old-money element is the youth who will be expected to take over the crumbling family pile and waste the rest of his life trying to maintain it. "Always the roof" he wails, drawing a sigh of identification from anyone in the audience who has ever had to deal with property maintenance - and that's nearly everybody.

The weakest element of author Laura Wade's thesis is that these students have a unique sense of entitlement, although it was treated as a revelation in 2010 when the play opened.  In fact rather a lot of students think this, Oxford or otherwise. The Cambridge production had an extra edge because of the historic competition between the universities.  They are not the same; not inside and not outside.  Cambridge remains snootier about its intellectual capacities but is otherwise a meritocracy, Oxford retains the underlying tang of social snobbery but has gone to far greater lengths to insist that so long as its entry qualifications are met, all are welcome to apply.

Spoilers sweetie but this is not a comedy. If you haven't seen POSH, grab a seat now and decide whether it is a fair representation of the cabinet, or whether they embody the character traits of the 646 who represent us in the House of Commons, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum.

No comments: