Entertainment & Arts

Scots actors hit back over 'whining' accent theatre review

James McArdle and James McAvoy Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption James McArdle (left) and James McAvoy have been less than impressed by Quentin Letts' review of Peter Gynt

Actor James McArdle has called theatre reviewer Quentin Letts "pathetic" after he made remarks about the "whining" accents of Scottish actors.

The critic was writing about the play Peter Gynt at London's National Theatre, in which Glasgow-born McArdle stars, when he made the comment.

He said "the fruity purr" of Oliver Ford Davies was " a welcome calm... from the whining Scottish accents".

"To go for our accents is something else," said McArdle.

The play is a modernised version of the Ibsen classic Peer Gynt.

Ibsen's original 19th Century work is set in Norway and tells the story of the adventures of the titular character from the Norwegian mountains to the North African desert.

David Hare's updated version sees McArdle's hero as a 21st Century Scottish soldier, in a work with singing and milkmaids described by Letts as "dancing Dolly Partons".

Letts said in the Sunday Times Culture column: "After so much frenzied movement and whizz-bang theatrics, the fruity purr of veteran thesp Oliver Ford Davies as the button moulder brings a welcome calm to proceedings, and relief at last from the whining Scottish accents."

Speaking to Scottish broadcaster STV, McArdle (who appeared in the TV series Love & Marriage) said he didn't want to give Letts credit as a "real reviewer", following the write-up.

"To go for our accents is something else. That critic is infamous for saying things like that and I think it's a bit pathetic and I don't want to give him credit as a real reviewer to be honest."

He added: "This whining Scottish accent is currently playing one of the biggest parts ever written in one of the most famous theatres in the world. I don't really have time for Quentin Letts to be perfectly honest with you."

McArdle's criticism of Letts follows comments made by fellow Scottish actor James McAvoy, who hit out at Letts over his "derogatory" comments when the review was first published on 14 July.

Image copyright National Theatre
Image caption McArdle (pictured) recently starred in Mary Queen of Scots

McAvoy - soon to be seen in the BBC's adaptation of His Dark Materials - filmed a reply to Letts, which he shared on social media.

"Quentin, I would love to have a conversation with you. I'll be doing a play soon in the West End, at the end of the year," said McAvoy.

"Maybe we could have a post-show discussion about why you think it's okay to label the sound of an entire nation in such a derogatory fashion?

"Where the person with an English accent gets referred to by his name as an individual with fruity superlatives, whereas the people who are whining just get referred to as Scottish. Not as individuals, not as actors, just an entire nation."

Letts is known for being controversial in his reviews and last year incited a backlash after he asked in his Daily Mail review whether actor Leo Wringer was cast in a Royal Shakespeare Company production "because he is black", leading the RSC to accuse him of having a "blatantly racist attitude".


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