Welcome to the Riot Club: TAS Posh Preview

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Eleanor Perrin previews the Theatre Arts Society’s upcoming production of Laura Wade’s Posh.

Gudrun Palomino

It’s almost time for the Theatre Arts Society’s new-found Summer term project. This year the play of choice is Laura Wade’s political satire Posh.

Directed by third year students Nicole Gavin and Ben Jennings, Posh explores the goings-on of Oxford University’s elitist clan ‘The Riot Club’ as they meet for their termly country-pub dinner. A feast of debauchery, Posh showcases what it means to be self-entitled; money, power and total impunity.

Ahead of Friday’s opening night, I spoke with the directorial duo to get some exclusive insight on what we should expect from their take on Wade’s play. I began by asking what made them decide that Posh would be a suitable choice for the Society’s Summer production. Nicole explained: ‘‘I applied to direct Posh as I loved studying it on the Gender module I took in Drama last year. Taking inspiration from Cressida Carré’s all-female cast production, I thought it would be amazing to stage a gender-blind contemporary performance here at the Lakeside! When I shared my idea with Ben, he was equally excited by the prospect and so we decided to team up and lead the project together.’’

She added: ‘‘Neither of us have solo directed before and I knew from working on The Vagina Monologues as a co-director that I wanted to work in a partnership. We have tried our best to arrange rehearsal work together, but being third years with loads of deadlines (not to mention dissertations) this hasn’t been easy to co-ordinate. However, both us and the cast have sacrificed the necessary time and energy to ensure that this project is the best that it can be.’’

Ben added: ‘‘I’m certainly the grumpier of the two directors! But I think that both of us offer something different for the cast and that our approaches are equally useful.’’

I also asked the duo how they believe they have made their own stamp on Wade’s play. Nicole replied: ‘‘Our Gender blind approach is a huge factor that separates ours and past productions of the play.’’

Ben agreed, adding: ‘‘the casting allows us to explore toxic masculinity through the eyes of female actors which frankly, is really cool and an interesting opportunity.’’

‘Our Gender blind approach is a huge factor that separates ours and past productions of the play.’

Rio Topley who plays the part of Harry. Gudrun Palomino

When I asked which characters we should look forward to seeing, Nicole responded: ‘‘I feel like every character has more to them than meets the eye, but I’d say the most intriguing figures are Harry (Rio Topley), Toby (Amy Stephenson-Yankuba) and Miles (Chloe Molyneaux).

In Ben’s view: ‘‘the Riot Club itself should be treated as its own character! It’s definitely the most interesting and dynamic ensemble I have ever worked with and I can’t wait for everyone else to meet them!

Finally, I asked the directors why we should get tickets for the show this week. Nicole explained: ‘‘This play is for everyone who believes that there’s more to people than meets the eye. Recently, the Lakeside has shown so many amazing classics and whilst I agree that these are important, I highly recommend that theatre-goers expose themselves to new shows. Personally, I feel there’s a need for contemporary performance to allow a different, more radical theatre to shine! Posh is a play that has said something to me throughout my time here at Essex, and I strongly believe that it will be a staple piece that firmly marks its place in the Lakeside’s production history.’’

Ben added: ‘‘One thing I would say is that the play is certainly 16+ and not for the faint hearted! The cast have worked so hard on this and it’s been a pleasure to work with every single one of them. I can’t wait to see their hard work recognised onstage.’’

‘This play is for everyone who believes that there is more to people than meets the eye.’

Posh is playing at the Lakeside Theatre May 18th-19th and tickets can be purchased below directly from the Box Office.