Theatre Review: Posh // Theatre Group
Intense, hard-hitting, and anger-inducing, Theatre Group’s production of Posh, by Laura Wade, succeeded in creating a satirical commentary on the immense privilege that comes with being white, male and upper-class. As the company’s director, George Marlin, stated in his director’s note: “Posh is as relevant and topical in a post-Brexit Britain as it was ten years ago.” Not only was I thoroughly entertained throughout the couple of hours that I was in the presence of the Posh cast and production team, but I left incredibly proud to know a group of young people that had been able to deliver such complex theatre with a well-addressed, pertinent message.
Marlin’s choice of traverse staging allowed for an intimate experience, that ensured that all of the audience could see members of the cast on both sides of the Riot Club’s dinner table. After seeing how effective the play was when performed in this way, I am unsure that I could watch Posh staged in proscenium ever again.
The set (designed by Ell Johnson) was simple, yet incredibly stylised and practical. I was in awe of the gorgeous, wooden, vintage chairs and warm lightbulbs that alined with the dining table, both of which were the main features of her design.
As the cast began to filter on stage throughout Act One, it became apparent that Marlin was taking on Posh with a mixed-gendered cast. At first, I was unsure as to how the girls would approach portraying toxic-masculinity and the male physicality, however I was overwhelmed at how well they coped with such a difficult task. It is fair to say that they absolutely blew me away, which was so lovely to see when you consider the gendered context of the play. Marlin’s take on Posh would not have been the same without them, as the real strength within the cast lay among Josie Francis, Lydia Duval, and Amelia Hampton-Williams. Their portrayal of their varying male characters was never forced, and fulfilled the requirements of their roles perfectly. Francis and Duval left me quietly giggling to myself after every line, and Hampton-Williams’s monologue at the end of Act One had me simmering with anger- the catalyst to finding myself clutching my pen with rage throughout Act 2.
Despite this, the cast’s southern accents did sometimes make dialogue difficult understand. Often, I felt as though the pronunciation of certain words, and the clarity of lines, were pushed to the side in order to sound the ‘right’ way. When this came at the same time as some characters talking over one another (which sometimes exceed being part of the natural flow of conversation), I found myself a little confused as to what was happening on stage, especially when a lot of the scenes during the Riot Club’s dinner involved reminising on previous meetings.
In addition to seeing the cast on stage, it was a lovely idea to use the production team as waiting staff in scene transitions, who set the table with cutlery and plates. It would have been so easy for Marlin to have done these in a blackout, however adding this small narrative allowed for a fluid storyline and, I can imagine, a very inclusive cast and crew.
More relevant than ever before, it was a fantastic idea for Theatre Group to have a run of Posh this academic year. Hopefully, members of all three audiences left as angry as I did, and are ready to make some changes to the way that the country works when we next get the chance to. Marlin, as well as his cast and crew, have produced a fantastic piece of theatre that will stay with me for a while longer.
Words by Morgan Hartley.
Originally published at https://www.indiependent.co.uk on March 2, 2020.