Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has been forced to defend a sex scene and strong language in its adaption of A Tale of Two Cities, after audience members walked out.
Reports in the Sun claimed that families with children were seen leaving, while a Regent’s Park spokesman argued that the play contains no nudity and had not been marketed to young children.
The scene that attracted criticism has now been removed from Matthew Dunster’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, following its first preview performance on July 8 .
During the preview performance, the character Sydney Carton was seen to pay a prostitute who then removes her underwear before a sex scene.
However a spokesman for Regent’s Park says this was a “brief, fully clothed-scene” in which there was no visible nudity.
In a statement, he said: “The production is billed as a ‘new play adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens’ which seeks to frame the original, often shocking, story within a contemporary context.
“At the first preview on Saturday night there were very few children among an adult audience of more than 1,100.
“On arrival, those accompanying any children were spoken to individually and offered a refund for their party should they not wish to see the performance. The vast majority of the audience stayed for the entire show.”
The spokesman added that, as the play is developed through the preview period, the scene with Sydney Carton and “much of the strong language” was removed before the second preview on July 10.
Additionally, the theatre’s website has been updated with advisory information and all customers who have booked for future performances have been contacted.
A report in the Sun newspaper  claimed that up to 100 people left the audience, however Regent’s Park Theatre argued that such figures were an overstatement.
The spokesman added: “There are a number of inaccuracies in the reporting of Saturday night’s performance of A Tale of Two Cities, which is neither aimed at nor marketed to young children.
“In particular, the three-hour play contains no nudity and reports of the number of children in the audience and the number of people leaving are overstated.”