The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has accused the Daily Mail's theatre critic of displaying a "blatantly racist attitude" in his review of their latest production.
Critic Quentin Letts awarded three stars to the RSC's production of The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich, a new version of an 18th century play by Mary Pix. However, Letts claimed in his review that actor Leo Wringer had been "miscast" as a character called Clerimont.
"There is no way he is a honking Hooray of the sort that has infested the muddier reaches of England’s shires for centuries. He is too cool, too mature, not chinless or daft or funny enough," Letts wrote of Wringer's performance.
"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."
“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," they said in the statement.
"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."
As Wringer's CV attests, he is an experienced stage actor who has appeared in numerous Shakespeare productions including Othello and Hamlet. His casting has also been defended on Twitter by fellow actor Samuel West, who wrote: "I’ve been lucky enough to share a stage with Leo Wringer and he’s not only a great actor with plenty of classical experience, he’s also one of the nicest humans on the planet. The RSC is very lucky to have him."
Oh for fuck’s sake. I’ve been lucky enough to share a stage with Leo Wringer and he’s not only a great actor with plenty of classical experience, he’s also one of the nicest humans on the planet. The RSC is very lucky to have him— Samuel West (@exitthelemming) April 6, 2018
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