Cleese ‘told to axe Life of Brian scene about man wanting to be a woman’

John Cleese says he was told by actors in the US reading the script of a Life of Brian stage production that the show should ditch a famous scene about a man wanting to be a woman and have a baby, because it “could offend people”.

The comedian is working on a theatre production of Monty Python’s controversial 1979 movie about a ‘very naughty boy’ called Brian who most definitely is not the Messiah.

The religious satire was banned in some countries, including Ireland, after being accused of blasphemy. However, the new controversy revolves around the scene involving a small group of political activists called the People’s Front of Judea.

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One member, Eric Idle’s character Stan, explains that he wants to be a woman called Loretta and to “have babies” – as it is “every man’s right to have babies if he wants them”.

When told by Cleese’s character Reg that he “can’t have babies”, Idle responds: “Don’t oppress me”. Cleese replied: “I’m not oppressing you Stan, you haven’t got a womb.”

Nonetheless, the People’s Front of Judea agrees to support Stan/Loretta’s right to have babies, as – according to Michael Plain’s character, it is “it is symbolic of our struggle against oppression”. Reg, however, is not convinced, and says it is “symbolic of his struggle against reality”.

Speaking recently, Cleese said that the scene has met with opposition from actors for the planned stage show because it could “offend people”.

Cleese said performers involved in a script readthrough in New York last year told him: “We love the script, but you can’t do that stuff about Loretta nowadays.”

During his one-man show last week, Cleese said: “So here you have something there’s never been a complaint about in 40 years, that I’ve heard of, and now all of a sudden we can’t do it because it’ll offend people. What is one supposed to make of that?

“But I think there were a lot of things that were actually, in some strange way, predictive of what was actually going to happen later.”

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