Posh

With this year’s general election behind us and members now in office the return of Posh to the Festival Fringe is timely. Laura Wade’s play is based on tales of the infamous Oxford University Bullingdon Club. Though not officially recognised by the university it dates back to the late eighteenth century when it was a cricket and hunting club. Always exclusive, it gained a reputation for riotous evenings of over indulgence and destructive behaviour. Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Johnson were all members, the Mayor of London, in an attempt to later distance himself from its antics, describing it as "a truly shameful vignette of almost superhuman undergraduate arrogance, toffishness and twittishness."

The old boys association of Sandbach School provided a fun evening at its expense and a damning indictment of the abuse of power, privilege and wealth that is still valid and very much with us.

In 2005 four members were arrested for damaging an Oxfordshire pub. This incident provides the stimulus for the play but takes it further in terms of brutality. The historic Royal College of Physicians provides an ideal location for this production. The downstairs lecture theatre has steeply raked seats which work well, as we are raised high above the stage and become spectators looking down on the game being played below. It also enables the apparition of Lord Ryott to appear on the aisle stairs from behind us in order to survey the scene.

The action takes place wholly within a private dining room at the Bull’s Head, with the exception of a prologue and epilogue in a gentleman’s club in London. Here the production directed and designed by John Lonsdale has stroke of genius. Instead of creating another set in a rather confined performing area, with the associated issues of two changes, these scenes were filmed and are projected onto the screen above the stage. It feels like the cinema and the film’s luxurious club location perfectly conveys the elite backgrounds of the boys. The only jarring note was Joe Mace’s slightly less than posh accent as the Tory MP.

The club’s members quite rightly dominate this production and the boys had little difficulty in carrying of their ‘toffishness and twittishness’ creating distinctive characters, although the other parts were less well established. The momentum of the evening successfully built up to the ultimate trashing of the dining room and subsequent attack on the landlord. Mike Harrington as the main protagonist Alistair Ryle does an excellent job in pushing the event to its violent demise.

The wilder excesses of the Bullingdon Club may be a thing of the past, but Ut Severis Seges Theatre Company, the old boys association of Sandbach School provided a fun evening at its expense and a damning indictment of the abuse of power, privilege and wealth that is still valid and very much with us.

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Performances

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The Blurb

USS reprise their acclaimed 2013 production charting the outrageous antics of the Riot Club. Hilarious and exhilarating, the student members rehearse their political futures. Laura Wade's political comedy translated to the cinema in 2014 as The Riot Club.

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