The Theatreguide.London Review
characters in Laura Wade's new play are indeed posh - rich, titled
Oxford students who belong to a centuries-old dining club that meets
several times a year to get falling-down drunk, trash the restaurant
and then leave a wad of cash behind to cover the damages.
group aren't especially good at debauchery - they mix up the wine list,
mismanage hiring a prostitute and can't come up with any after-dinner
plan more depraved than flying to Reykjavik in daddy’s private jet.
as the wine
flows and dribbles, a buried rage surfaces, against a post-feudal world
that does not offer them the obeisance they consider their due - the
most nearly coherent among them ends the first act with a screed that
climaxes ‘I am sick to fucking death of poor people!’
manage in their drunkenness to go too far, raising the real spectre of
arrest, criminal records and a significant slowing-down of their
journeys to adult success, and the way they react to that exposes their
emptiness even further, though an ironic coda assures us that the
still-thinking-themselves-ruling-class will take care of their own.
Since the boys’ gormlessness is central to the play‘s vision, it may be deliberate choice on director Lyndsey Turner’s part to keep the energy level of the production tepid throughout, but that does limit our inclination to get emotionally involved, or even to sustain interest in the goings-on.
Much the same is
true of the fact that the ten central characters are more-or-less
indistinguishable and interchangeable, making it very difficult for
anyone in the cast to register or make much of an impression.
eloquent one played by Leo Bill, later to play a central role in the
plot, is hard to pick out of the crowd scenes once he stops speaking.
the idle rich
still think themselves important, that they resent a world that doesn’t
share that opinion, and that they may in fact retain some
behind-the-scenes power are all valid points, but not quite enough to
sustain and warrant a deliberately low-key and uninvolving
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