The Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts has been accused of displaying a “blatantly racist attitude” by the Royal Shakespeare Company after the columnist suggested one of its actors was given a role because he is black.
Letts used a review of the RSC’s production of Mary Pix’s ‘The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich’ to question the casting of thespian Leo Wringer as the older Clerimont in the play.
“Was Mr Wringer cast because he is black?” Letts wrote in his review. “If so, the RSC’s clunking approach to politically correct casting has again weakened its stage product.”
A joint statement from RSC Creative Director Gregory Doran and Executive Director Catherine Mallyon described Letts’ review as “ugly and prejudiced commentary”.
Doran and Mallyon wrote: “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.”
Wringer is a prolific Shakespearean actor with dozens of stage credits to his name, including the role of Othello in a touring production.
His resume also includes appearances on TV hits ‘Silent Witness’ and ‘Law and Order’.
HuffPost UK has approached the The Daily Mail for comment.