Posh: A review
Rating - *****
Upon hearing that a play called Posh was being put on by Edinburgh students I was apprehensive, thinking Edinburgh — notoriously home to some of the poshest of the posh — was the wrong audience for such a play. However, Theatre Paradok’s decision to produce Laura Wade’s Posh could not have been better. From the cross-gender roles to the immersive viewing experience, Posh was a fantastic commentary on hyper-privileged culture and captivated the entire audience from the first second to the last.
The Riot Club’s lavish nature was immediately brought to life by the ‘yahs’, ‘rahs’ and impossibly elongated vowels familiar to many Edinburgh students. Each and every cast member donning a tailcoat did the title justice with their fabulously excruciating accents that did not waiver once throughout the performance — an impressive achievement considering the non-stop, fast-paced dialogue. The entire extended cast was equally talented and there was not a hint of opening-night-nerves, making it truly easy to forget that I was watching a student production as they navigated the script with skill and maintained such a high standard of performance throughout both acts.
Co-directors Florence Carr-Jones and Ruby Loftus worked the small venue to their advantage, resulting in a hypnotising show as the audience sat on either side of the grand dining table. The lack of a stage worked wonderfully with the conversational nature of the play, and the audience, being on the same level as the cast, had no choice but to watch in awe. As the first act developed and the main cast all took their places at the table, I was worried that my view of half the cast would be obscured as they sat with their backs towards me. But this was not a problem as the cast swiftly switched places, continuing to do so throughout the play. The constant movement was organically worked into the production and caused no distraction; instead, it was the perfect device to amplify each character's stage presence. It’s safe to say Posh was an incredible directorial feat for Carr-Jones and Loftus as, with only a three week turn around, they produced a marvellously cohesive performance and, considering the small venue, it was apparent that every movement was carefully thought out and yielded the absolute most from the little space. The play's pacing was also cleverly done, and while the first act vastly exceeded the second in length, it was not a task to sit through. In fact, after Priya Basra as Alistair Ryle performed a monologue of professional standard, the interval could not have been over soon enough as the audience awaited her return.
My initial apprehension eased completely during the first act, and I too found myself on the edge of my seat waiting for the second act to begin. The cross-gender roles were perfect to highlight the satirical portrayal of upper-class debauchery as the women sat at the table and the men took on roles such as waitress and escort. This created the perfect balance of sickening and entertaining; and contrary to my first thoughts, Edinburgh turned out to be the perfect audience. A line that stuck with me from the first act, “you’re a parody of yourself”, perfectly summarises the reason Edinburgh was actually a compatible audience for Posh: it was a delightfully aware parody of itself and not at all a tone-deaf display of privilege as I had originally worried. After leaving the venue I was completely astonished by the standard of performance I had just watched from a student theatre group — there’s absolutely no doubt that they were deserving of their sold-out run.