Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Riot Club - not very pretty I tell thee, but recommended viewing

They look like Cameron's infamous Bullingdon Club, but they're not ~ that was back in the 1980s, and POSH is set right now, an invented but horrendously-plausible example of the 'dining clubs' at the finishing schools of our ruling classes. Election year is a good time to revive this 2010 Royal Court hit, and this Salisbury/ Nottingham Playhouse coproduction makes a smashing job of it.  Literally, in Act 2.
I saw it on the day Jeremy Clarkson declared himself an endangered species (in his column in the Sun, so not endangered like an anti-fracking protester or a black homeless on Skid Row) which was apt, as that’s how the rich cubs of The Riot Club see themselves: like some kind of rare fox, apparently, hounded by contemptible hoi polloi who invade their stately homes searching for cream teas and question their inherited right to classism, racism and misogyny.  Laura Wade's script is brilliant, inviting us to both laugh and gasp at these barely articulate young men for whom the highest accolade is "fucking savage!" while showing the terrifying power their money & status still claim. Good to see the high-testosterone of the (excellent) cast counterbalanced by an all-female creative team, too.

We meet the dining dectet on the night the toast is "To leave a trail of glorious destruction in our wake" and we follow their high jinks throughout one Hogarthian evening in which revelry consists of excess, abuse, and humiliating forfeits. It's mostly very funny, both in their utterances and their antics (a highlight from Tom Clegg as Toby, force-fed wine into near stupor) but the undercurrent anger bubbles and surfaces after Alistair speaks for them all: "I'm sick to death of fucking poor people" ~  an outstanding performance from Jordan Metcalfe although with his schoolboy Plantagenet haircut he looks about as upperclass as Harry looks like Prince William. And when the swashbucklers have to rejoin the real world, how will they cover their tracks? Well they do what friends do ~ friends in a club like this anyway, where like the Hotel California you can check out but you can never leave. They … oh you’ll have to go and see it. On till April 4th at Salisbury Playhouse. The Salisbury Journal wondered what their "Tory heartland" audience would make of it, but happily the full-house chose to be charmed, rattled their jewellery and cheered. As did I.

Looking ahead to Friday March 27th in Frome, the spring Poetry Platter ~ an event where the audience joins the performer on stage in a bistro-style atmosphere with real food ~ is Fruitcake! Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward, brought to the Merlin theatre by Rob Gee.
Rob, who was featured in The Guardian recently, is a very funny standup poet but his material isn't trivial, and he's one of the leading voices in the current trend of satiric comedy.  This show has won 5-star reviews & awards and the price of a ticket, in terms of artisan coffees which I believe is the going measure of comparison, is a mere two... call 01373 465949 to book.

A small medley of footnotes to this post: The venue with no name at the Wheatsheaf narrowly avoided closure last week, thanks to a hasty facebook petition, allowing MJ & The Rocketeers to live up to their name on Thursday in a great session with even Tainted Love getting the 60s treatment. And as spring teeters in, there's street theatre from Show Of Strength in Wells next Saturday ~ Frome Comedy Club host Tim O'Connor is one of the writers of these short cuts, though sadly there's a clash with the Pump Jam at Welshmill Park that day.

And here's the Pavement Poet in Bath.... an idea for Frome Festival, anyone?

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