The theatre-savvy of you out there will already be very aware of Laura Wade. Back in 2010, the playwright (already on the one-to-watch list for her excellent mid-noughties plays Colder Than Here and *Breathing Corpses) *became a the playwright of the moment when her play Posh premiered at the Royal Court to sell-out crowds.
Set at Oxford University, the play (and subsequent film) is about a fictional dining club, one that rasied more than a few eyebrows thanks to comparisons the media drew with the much chastised real-life Bullingdon Club which once counted David Cameron, George Osbourne and Boris Johnson as members.
Now, in 2014, Posh has been made into a film, *The Riot Club – *out this week – that stars Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, Jessica Brown Findlay, Holiday Grainger, Max Irons… Pretty much most of the brightest and best of the young Brit actor crowd.
Laura herself personally adapted the play to the big screen. ‘I was just trying to tell the same story but in the language of film,’ she said when we spoke to her earlier this week. ‘With a stage play you can’t do close-ups so when a character wants to tell you how they feel they use words. In a film, though, you can tell in half a second from what’s flickering across an actor’s face.'
Hailing from Sheffield (‘peasant stock!’ she laughs) the subject matter wasn’t an obvious choice for Laura. ‘The Royal Court wanted me to write a play and we thought it should be about young wealthy people because there’s lots of plays about young people from more difficult backgrounds. I happened upon the idea of these dining societies and I though it was a really interesting world to explore as it was completely closed off to me as a woman.’
How truthful is the content of the play and the film to what really goes on? ‘The people that I met that had been anywhere near these dining societies said it’s quite accurate – apart from the massive act of violence that happens of course' she says - referring to the climax of the film (it's visible in the trailer so no spoilers – honest!).
And is it meant to be a comment on Oxford University at all? ‘No! It's not about the whole university. It’s about 10 people at the whole university. People say: “What have you got agains Old Etonians?” and it’s like: “Well I haven’t. They’re extremely lucky to have that education, but I think it’s about what you do with it – the opportunities you had… how do you choose to behave?’
Because although Laura didn’t choose to make Posh overtly political, due to coincidental timing, the play's politics very much became the media's main focus. When the play hit the stage back in 2010, it was around the same time that the political debates ahead of the general election were taking place. Remember those heady days? When everyone thought Nick Clegg was going to be the saviour of British politics? Fast forward four years and the Conservatives and the age of austerity has left Britain at a point where it might literally actually split up.
'It was a funny one because it wasn't at all deliberate for the play to be on at the time of the election, that was just a quirk of programming and it worked partly in our favour because it meat we got lots of attention,' Laura explains. 'It was intended as an anthropological study of these characters and I'd hate for it to come across as a brown beating poltical thing.'
Despite this, thanks to the timing of Posh's two outings (2010 and now as we begin the build up to the next general election) Laura is in an interesting position to comment on how she feels things have changed since the last time her play was in the public eye. Unsurprisingly, she's not feeling encouraged. ‘I think that the world seems to have got more friendly to them (rich people) if anything. They’ve got a government that’s rather on their side. It’s quite a good time for rich people at the moment… as far as I can tell from here!’
The Riot Club is in cinemas this Friday
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.