Since its premiere at the Royal Court, Posh has been causing a stir. It’s highly entertaining, and also thought-provoking. I would describe the characters as caricatures, but they are perhaps all the more funny for the fact that people that extreme do exist (some of them are running the country). The performances are all excellent, and the boys are thoroughly convincing; they’ve perfected the demeanour and speech of the over-privileged, and ooze a sense of entitlement.
The play highlights the challenges facing the upper class, as the National Trust take over their houses and they are forced into internships and Numerical Reasoning Tests. However, it also lists the long history of challenges, such as industrialisation, that the upper class has overcome and this reinforces the underlying sense of the entrenched and immovable power of the upper classes.
The fact that Posh is part of an increasing fashion to poke fun at the privileged is acknowledged within the play itself. In the programme, Laura Barton talks about the increasing fascination with the upper class in recent years, citing examples such as Downton Abbey and Titanic – yet these programmes are all set in the past. As was the conclusion of Grayson Perry’s documentary on class, it seems that the upper class is intrinsically linked to their history. In the present, Made in Chelsea and Will and Kate have made posh ‘cool’, but this is posh as a fashion statement or a lifestyle rather than as a social and political reality. The posh occupy an aspirational lifestyle; this explains the nation’s fascination with Kate Middleton’s marriage into the monarchy.
Yet Barton also recognises how much reassurance and satisfaction we gain from having an upper class to rail against. Not only do they provide a useful scapegoat for our troubles but in a world of upheaval it is comforting to recognise the continuity and timelessness of the upper classes. Whatever your view of the upper classes, the message of Posh is clear: they’re here to stay.