Royal Court reverses decision to cancel Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Gemma Dobson Taj Atwal and James Atherton

Gemma Dobson Taj Atwal and James Atherton

London's Royal Court theatre has cancelled a play after allegations that its co-director Max Stafford-Clark made inappropriate sexual comments to staff. It said staging the play, "with its themes of grooming and abuses of power on young women", were at odds with the theatre's own efforts to tackle abuse in the sector.

However, Royal Court artistic director Vicky Featherstone has now reversed that decision, following claims its plans to not show the play amounted to censorship.

Earlier this evening Featherstone released a further statement saying: "I know that we are nothing without the voices and trust of our writers".

"This is the guiding principle on which the theatre was founded and on which it continues to be run".

She added: "I have therefore been rocked to the core by accusations of censorship and the banning of a working-class female voice".

A statement from the theatre said: "The Royal Court Theatre and Out Of Joint have chosen not to present the current touring production of Rita, Sue And Bob Too at the Royal Court in January 2018".

Stafford-Clark has left the company, but The Royal Court said staging the show, which features abuses of power on young women, now feels "highly conflictual". "As a result of this helpful public debate we are now confident that the context with which Andrea Dunbar's play will be viewed will be an invitation for new conversations".

The play was written when Dunbar was 18 and became notorious for its opening scene where two schoolgirl babysitters take it in turns to have sex with their employer in the back of his vehicle.

In October, a spokesperson for Stafford-Clark told The Guardian the director had suffered from pseudobulbar palsy and "occasional disinhibition" since a stroke and brain injury in 2006.

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