An audience member left an hour after our performance of As You Like It at York Theatre Royal because it featured Yorkshire accents.

The disgruntled theatregoer asked for a refund due to the accents being used.

Posting on Twitter, Tom Bird, York Theatre Royal’s chief executive, said the audience member left after an hour into the 150-minute performance.

“There are people who prefer Shakespeare to be done in what you’d call the Queen’s English, but that’s problematic in a few ways,” Mr Bird said.

“Firstly, you’re in Yorkshire and you want it to hit home in a way that feels immediate to people here. Secondly the production company is set up to do shows in northern accents.

“Thirdly, Shakespeare wouldn’t have spoken in Received Pronunciation himself. He was a rural lad from Stratford upon Avon.”

We are currently touring the UK with As You Like It, bringing our “bold, refreshing style to Shakespeare’s most musical and much-loved comedy”.

Three members of our cast are from Yorkshire, with the performance also featuring accents from the North West and North East.

Laurie Sansom, Northern Broadsides’ Artistic Director, said: “We usually get people saying that hearing Shakespeare done in the northern voice was the first time they felt it belonged to them as much as everyone else.

“It’s a very rare complaint, but when it does come along, it makes you realise people can still have preconceived ideas about what culture is, who it’s for and how it should be performed. We really embrace ripping that up.”

Mr Bird added: “We’re super-proud of hosting Shakespeare’s work in northern dialects. It’s certainly not going to stop us – and there will be no refund.

“The show itself is groundbreaking in other ways. The fact it’s being done in northern accents is absolutely not.”

“Just when you thought change had been made, you get a reminder of why your work is still of vital importance. All of us at Northern Broadsides are proud to carry on the company’s mission of reflecting the huge diversity of talent in the north. Performing Shakespeare’s words in a variety of northern voices had been crucial to this since Barrie Rutter founded the company 30 years ago, since then, the company’s work has captured the imagination of many new theatre goers and artists by making the lyricism and muscularity of Shakespeare’s words available to everyone. If that still ruffles a few feathers, it’s evidence that our job is far from done, and we will continue to celebrate bold, irreverent work by and for everyone in the north.

We’re excited to see how we can be better at giving everyone ownership of our stages, which includes championing actors from across the north including those from our spiritual home in Yorkshire”

Laurie Sansom

Artistic Director / CEO