The theater company behind the upcoming Romeo & Juliet play starring Tom Holland and Francesca Amewudah-Rivers is speaking out after the lead actress faced “a barrage of racial abuse online.”

“Following the announcement of our Romeo & Juliet cast, there has been a barrage of deplorable racial abuse online directed towards a member of our company. This must stop,” Jamie Lloyd of Jamie Lloyd Company wrote via Instagram on April 5, 2024. “We are working with a remarkable group of artists. We insist that they are free to create work without facing online harassment.”

In March 2024, the production company revealed that Francesca would be their next Juliet in the classic William Shakespeare play — and was immediately met with an onslaught of racist comments towards the Black actress on social media.

After Instagram users flooded to her profile to leave hateful remarks, the official Romeo & Juliet page even had to turn off their comment section.

In their statement one month later, the production company vowed to “support and protect” the entire cast and crew. “Bullying and harassment have no place online, in our industry or in our wider communities. Our rehearsal room is full of joy, compassion, and kindness,” the message read. “We celebrate the extraordinary talent of our incredible collaborators. The Romeo & Juliet community will continue to rehearse with generosity and love, and focus on the creation of our production.”

Tom has yet to address the hateful comments about his costar.

Before Romeo & Juliet, Francesca starred in several other Shakespeare productions including Macbeth and Othello, however, her new role will serve as her West End theatre debut. You might recognize the actress from the British TV series Bad Education. On top of that, she’s also worked as a composer for many different projects.

The upcoming play will serve as Tom’s first return to the theatre since he starred in Billy Elliot as a young boy. ICYMI, the actor shot to fame for his role as Peter Parker in three Spider-Man films and Marvel spinoffs. He’s also starred in The Devil All the Time, The Crowded Room and Uncharted.

The production is still in the rehearsal phase but is set to run at the Duke of York’s Theatre from May 11 through August 3. Tickets may be hard to grab since the 12-week run is already sold out.

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