A lesbian rendition of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet being staged in Birmingham -- in which the role of Romeo is played by a woman -- has met with a storm of criticism, organizers said on Monday.
The play, originally performed around 1594, also sees Juliet's nurse and confidante played by a homosexual transvestite, and several other roles are marked by gender reversals.
"People are becoming heartily sick of this sort of thing being offered up as entertainment. What a pity we have to see this sort of sensationalism in an attempt to fill seats," said Tony Wareing, president of Mediawatch UK.
The director of the play, which will show in Birmingham's Cresent Theatre, has justified the casting choices and denied accusations she was looking for headlines.
"I don't think anyone else has done the play in this way. It is not meant to be offensive or gratuitous. It is being done carefully and tastefully in a modern setting, sticking faithfully to the original text," director Nick Fogg told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
"Romeo and Juliet is a love story, so in a modern context why shouldn't it be a story between two women or two men?" she told AFP on Monday.
"We're trying to challenge people's preconceptions about the play and make them look again at the story. I know this is more controversial than other plays we've done but we feel it's relevant. I'm upset that so many people have come with a negative approach," Fogg said -- (AFP)
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