THE Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has hit back at a Daily Mail review of its new show, The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich, branding it ‘racist’.
Quentin Letts appeared to like the production of Mary Pix’s comedy of manners at The Swan, giving it three stars.
But midway through his review, he wrote: “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.”
Experienced Shakespeare actor Leo Wringer plays Elder Clerimont.
The RSC’s artistic director, Gregory Doran, and executive director, Catherine Mallyon, issued a statement on Saturday night in response.
“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 are thrilled by the response to The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich, a play by Mary Pix neglected in the last 300 years and now receiving the warmest of responses from audiences and critics alike.
“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.”
Fantastic Follies runs until 14th June.
Read the Herald’s review in the current edition, download a copy HERE.