Royal Shakespeare Company condemns ‘abhorrent’ TV listing describing Romeo and Juliet cast as ‘garishly diverse’

Listing in the Sunday Times compared the production unfavourably to a performance of Macbeth due to air on BBC4

Roisin O'Connor@Roisin_OConnor
Monday 15 June 2020 19:56
Karen Fishwick and Bally Gill in the RSC's production of Romeo and Juliet
Karen Fishwick and Bally Gill in the RSC's production of Romeo and Juliet

The Royal Shakespeare Company has criticised The Sunday Times after a TV listing described the cast of a Romeo and Juliet production as “garishly diverse”.

The article appeared in a preview ahead of the RSC’s showing of Macbeth on BBC4, and commented that the play was “less garishly diverse in casting than last Sunday's Romeo and Juliet”.

The cast of RSC’s modern-day adaptation of Romeo and Juliet included British-Asian actor Bally Gall as Romeo, and Scottish actor Karen Fishwick as Juliet.

Mercutio was portrayed by Charlotte Josephine as a woman.

After the Sunday Times listing was shared on social media, the RSC issued a statement saying it was “shocked and appalled” at the language used.

“[Writer] John Dugdale previewing Polly Findlay's 2018 RSC production of Macbeth, describes it as 'less garishly diverse in casting' than Erica Whyman's production of Romeo and Juliet the previous week,” the statement read.

“Such deliberate and offensive use of language demonstrates clear prejudice and devalues people, in this case specifically devaluing the work of RSC artists.”

The statement added that the RSC aims to reflect the diverse range of talent in the UK so its audiences “which we serve are all able to recognise themselves on stage”.

The Sunday Times has apologised for what it says was a production error, and removed the listing from its online edition.

In a statement, a Sunday Times spokesperson said: “We are sorry that an inappropriate reference appeared in our review of Macbeth. It has been removed from our online edition.”