London, June 10 : Sir Jonathan Miller, one of Britain's most influential theatre directors, has hit out at West End producers, accusing them of having "an obsession with celebrity".
In an interview with The Times, the 73-year-old said that this obsession is now making theatre bosses to reject acclaimed productions just because they lacked a TV or film star.
He also revealed that was facing great troubles in generating interest for his latest productions as his cast did not adorn any famous names even though he got rave reviews.
Sir Jonathan has numerous Olivier awards to his credit for his Old Vic productions. And one of his latest productions, Hamlet, which went on stage in Bristol, received huge reviews, where critics named lead actor Jamie Ballard as an "exceptional talent." However, still the production did not garner any West End interest.
"Producers might have been swayed if I'd been prepared to put in for more luminous names. But I wanted my original cast, who were absolutely first-class," BBC quoted Sir Jonathan, as saying.
Right now, there are two West End versions of Hamlet in production: One for the Royal Shakespeare Company stars David Tennant, who Sir Jonathan calls "that man from Doctor Who" and the other being the one which stars Jude Law.
While talking about Law, Sir Jonathan said: "I suspect he can't act better than the young unknown who played him for me, who was quite extraordinary."
It was just last year, when West End producers were thinking about transferring the director's Sheffield production of 'The Cherry Orchard' starring Joanna Lumley to the West End. However, on Lumley's denial to commit to a long theatre run, they change their mind. "I understand Sir Jonathan's frustrations. It is something we have encountered with previous productions which we were keen to take into the West End," said Michael Boyd, artistic director for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
However, Boyd refused to agree that David Tennant was a "celebrity" Hamlet.
"David has not been cast because he is Doctor Who, but because he is an excellent actor who deserves to play the role of Hamlet. He earned his spurs with the company for two seasons - in 1996-7 in A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It and The Herbal Bed, and then returning in 2000 to play Romeo in my production of Romeo and Juliet and Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors," he said.
He added: "Of course, the fact that David went on to become hugely popular as Doctor Who and for his other popular TV roles, means that he brings with him audiences who would not necessarily have booked to see Hamlet which can only be a good thing," he added.