Review – Posh, Royal Court

Can there be a theatre in London that turns out more consistently than the Royal Court? (The only other candidate would be The Old Vic and that’s because Kevin Spacey’s directorship has been marked by fumbled opportunities at almost every turn). If theatres sold partisan scarves and season tickets, this would be my team.

Passing an evening in the company of a thinly veiled facsimile of The Bullingdon Club, Posh was always going to be the sort of work that generated a good level of interest. And it’s probably not an accident that it’s scheduled to run during an election campaign.

Some excellent performances from this young cast mean that these characters – who are essentially a very similar bunch – manage to differentiate themselves clearly and Laura Wade’s writing is fast-paced and witty. This is a well done and clever production from a great cast of young actors.

Having said that, the central message (that bad behaviour isn’t okay even if you’ve got a title) sometimes feels like it’s being laid on with a trowel rather than a brush – the events of the final act, in particular, feel pretty predictable. The writing itself is witty but never truly funny: it was telling that the biggest laugh of the night came from one character declaring that they were planning to fly to Iceland, which (unless Wade has had a prior career as a volcano whisperer) presumably wasn’t even meant to be a joke when it was written.

This is a clever play, cleverly directed (the scene changes are a particularly nice touch) and with some great performances from a cast of almost-unknowns. It will be a deserving hit for the Royal Court and is well worth seeing. But it falls well short of serious political of social commentary, and the writing isn’t sharp enough to make it a classic.