Interviewing Charlie Robertson and Xav, the producer and director of Posh
It's through the upper echelons of society, that a certain perception of 'poshness' is construed and imaged. This perception of class, status and wealth creates a palpable disparity affecting people on both sides of the fence. Posh has been inspired by Laura Wade's play which follows a group of boys belonging to an exclusive dining club, who go on to hold the "vestiges of power" in society. The club is referred to as The Riot Club evoking similarities with the Bullingdon Club, of which David Cameron and Boris Johnson formed a part. As a critique on the elitist culture that many societies feed on and partake in, Posh questions the "inherited privilege" that most of us seem to enjoy. Posh is about the interplay of power and privilege in a society that not only values such traits but places individuals who possess them at an unfair advantage. In a sticky situation, those with wealth and status don't have to undergo half of what the unprivileged have to deal with. As Charlie stated during the interview, "while one falls on a soft bed, the other seldom bounces back up from the hardrock." The cards on the table have been dealt unfairly—but there seems to be little that can compensate for that. The boys in the Riot Club become "emblematic of the power system and structure" they grow into and inhabit. Even though they aren't "bad individuals", it is their contribution to such a culture which almost costs them their own identities.
As Xav brought up in the interview, to paraphrase Churchill, 'don't hate the individual, hate the system.' This is what Posh encapsulates in its representation of characters—who are relatively "easy to associate with" but have "complex underlying motives" for behaving the way they do. While navigating through their lives, some characters choose to build newer versions of themselves just to "fit a mold" instead of breaking away from it. This delusion and desire to be socially accepted and fit into a box without spilling out of it mirrors the strong sense of external validation that many of us seek. In Posh, the contradiction between the inner and outer selves of certain characters propels the play forward contributing to its tense atmosphere. Even though Posh allows you to have a good laugh, it also makes the audience "complicit" for indulging in such a spectacle. Not only do the characters onstage cater to different personalities but also enjoy a duality of their own—not being static bodies, but shifting and evolving at every turn.
Throughout the play, the stuffiness of certain conversations becomes evident given the uncomfortable silences and unsaid thoughts that pierce the atmosphere. Posh begins with a group of ten wealthy individuals walking into a gastro-pub creating a stark contrast between them and the space they occupy. From the onset of the play, these characters are standing out from the rest and are placed in a space that cannot accommodate them. The intensity of certain dialogues between characters and their bigger motives hints at the unsaid violence that constantly resurfaces. This unspoken and unsaid nature of things culminates into a sudden outburst—that is at once terrifying and reflective. When all the anger and resentfulness is at its peak, the "veneer begins to strip away" and ultimately, the "façade" is gone. In many situations, action against injustice is taken either when it is too late or not at all. It comes to the brink of disregarding such matters exist—an indifference which becomes almost "lethal." Posh makes the audience understand the aftershocks which come with being silent and letting situations control you. Being an inactive bystander allows injustice to grow—not just "behind closed doors but even in open spaces." This forms a pattern where injustice can be easily displaced onto another individual allowing this corrupt system to flourish.
Posh stitches together a narrative of class division and power, at once, trying to bring certain groups and societies into this larger conversation. As the play begins to come to a close, the tables turn around because it's not the actors on stage asking the questions but the audience. Much remains changed as the unexpected happens, making the audience feel angry and frustrated about the final outcome. Not only do you feel like you are a party to the injustice on screen, but also that your silence has worsened an avoidable situation. Posh raises concerns about problematic actions and thoughts being "normalised"—originating not just in quiet corners but out in the open. In this play, its subversion lies in the nature of the questions it poses. Who gets the power or the final word in a given situation? What makes privilege a dangerous weapon? How does power and status contribute to an unjust system? Are you yourself contributing or borrowing from such a system?
Be it the subtlety in remarks, instances of white privilege and control, or moments of deafening silence—Posh holds a mirror up to the audience, asking them to constantly introspect and reflect on themselves and their past decisions.
To feel this passionate and nuanced display of Posh, mark your calendars for the second and third of November. It will be a play 'not for an age, but for all time.'