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29th Jun, 2022

RSC riled by 'racist' review of new production

Ian Hughes 10th Apr, 2018

THE ROYAL Shakespeare Company has accused a Daily Mail critic of a “blatantly racist attitude” in a review of a new production in Stratford.

Quentin Letts in his review of The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich, currently playing in the Swan Theatre, questioned if actor Leo Wringer had been cast simply because he was black.

Mr Letts said: “Was Mr Wringer cast because he is black? If so, the RSC’s clunking approach to politically correct casting has again weakened its stage product.

“I suppose its managers are under pressure from the Arts Council to tick inclusiveness boxes, but at some point they are going to have to decide if their core business is drama or social engineering.”

The review prompted a joint statement response from RSC artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon.

They said: “We are shocked and deeply troubled by Quentin Letts’ review of The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich in which he seems to demonstrate a blatantly racist attitude to a member of the cast.

“We are very proud to be working with every member of the company each of whom has been asked to join us in Stratford because we value and recognise their unique skills and talents.

“Our approach to casting is to seek the most exciting individual for each role and in doing so to create a repertoire of the highest quality.

“We are proud that this ensures our casts are also representative of the diversity of the United Kingdom, that the audiences which we serve are able to recognise themselves on stage and that our work is made and influenced by the most creative range of voices and approaches.

“We salute the whole cast for their excellent work on the production, support them unreservedly and hope they can begin to put behind them this ugly and prejudiced commentary.”

Mr Letts was on holiday this week but did tweet in response to the furore his review had caused.

He said: “Am told RSC has attacked me for racism. Oh come off it. I was merely questioning a clumsy colour-blind casting policy which itself patronises actors and audiences.”

Mr Wringer is known and respected for his work on stage and screen, and has appeared in many Shakespeare productions.

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