The Advertising Standards Agency has launched an investigation into publicity for a critically acclaimed play currently staged in London, after one tube traveller complained the sexually suggestive imagery was “offensive”.
Mies Julie, which was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, has become the most successful play at west London’s Riverside Studios in the past five years.
The director of the Studios said the complaint was the first of its kind he had received in 35 years of working in the industry.
Advertising for the play, a reworking of August Strindberg’s play Miss Julie set in post-apartheid South Africa, shows a topless man straddling a woman who appears to be clothed.
The complaint to the ASA challenged “whether the ad was offensive and unsuitable for display where it could be seen by children”.
William Burdett-Coutts, director of the Riverside Studios, said the claim was “extraordinary” adding: “It’s emblematic of the show. It’s not offensive.”
Mies Julie, which closes next month, contains strong themes of sex and violence, and is aimed at people from 16 years old and up.
The theatre company will respond to the complaint this week, and the ASA will then complete their investigation and rule.
“It’s bizarre,” Mr Burdett-Coutts said. “It’s the first time I’ve had a complaint like this in 35 years.”