Posh offers an enticing invitation into a world of extravagance, destruction, and loathsome entitlement. Prepare to enter a dining room of ten arrogant young men with a gross overabundance of alcohol, cash, and self-importance. The production welcomes its audience to witness the despicable misbehaviour of the Riot Club, an exclusive Oxford society. Theatre Paradok’s Posh is a flawlessly produced show that is equally entertaining as it is bone-chilling.
Posh was first produced by Laura Wade and performed in 2010. In 2016, however, the first gender-bent version premiered, with women playing the twelve male roles and men playing the two female roles. Theatre Paradok’s Posh, co-directed by Ruby Loftus and Florence Carr-Jones, follows the tradition of the 2016 version with its gender-bent cast. Fittingly, the show commences with Shania Twain’s classic ‘Man! I Feel like a Woman’ while the cast transform into their gendered counterparts.
The gender-bent version is much more effective and allows women at least a modicum of power in a play centred around their maltreatment. Rather than feeling a sense of maudlin depression and helplessness watching the misconduct of misogynistic, classist, racist, and abusive men, the women in the roles of the men offer the audience a respite from a sense of inescapable patriarchal oppression. Furthermore, scenes of sexual assault are made even more uncomfortable and strange, emphasising the ghastliness of sexual assault regardless of gender.
Theatre Paradok’s Posh is a perfectly perplexing mix of humour and horror. The bumbling antics of a few drunk rich men indeed are laughable at first. The laughter of the audience is a regular chorus throughout the show, especially at the beginning. The young men’s’ indignation at finding out their ten-bird roast is only a nine-bird roast is only one example of many ridiculous, comic incidents. However, while some of the men are seemingly inept and ludicrous buffoons, others are more sinister, charismatic, and cruel.
Priya Basra as Alistair Ryle is the star performance of the show. Alistair’s final monologue before the intermission is nothing short of spectacular. I was fixed motionless in my seat in the audience, barely breathing. Basra’s terrifying and hair-raising delivery of lines with expert voice control and a steely, disquieting projection of hatred and prejudice is uncannily believable.
Posh is a clever, at times comic, and overall terrifying depiction of the repugnant privilege of the rich. Deeply unsettling while also riotously hilarious, the production presents an interesting look into economics, morality, and the sad state of a classist country. The talented cast, darkly comic antics, hair-raising moments of suspense, and disquieting foray into the lives of the grossly entitled make this a show not to miss.
The Wee Red Bar, November 1st-3rd, 19:30
Images photographed by Isabella Wright, provided to The Student via Press Release