Stitching, the play banned from being staged in Malta last year, is set to be performed at the popular Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month with a '14' rating.

A spokesman for the Fringe told The Sunday Times it was the performers themselves who gave an age rating to the works they staged, but these were just "guidelines".

When it first was staged at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2002, The Guardian reported that some audience members had walked out of Anthony Nielson's play, which focuses on a couple dealing with the loss of a child.

This year, however, theatre company Selladoor will be bringing back the award-winning play to the festival.

Chris Gatt, director of the local production, said he was not surprised at the self-imposed '14' rating.

"It proves what we've said all along. It was an entire fuss for nothing. Obscenity is in the eyes of the beholder, not in the script - and this is why plays like Stitching keep being performed," Mr Gatt said.

He said he could not understand why Scottish audiences should be subjected to a different cultural and moral benchmark than the Maltese. Citing as examples local plays like Chat Room (which was given a '16' rating in Malta, when it is meant to be performed by, and for, 14-year-olds), he said local classification needed a radical overhaul. In several countries, not only had stage censorship long been abolished, but so had classification.

Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon upheld the Board of Classification's decision to ban Unifaun Theatre Company from staging Stitching at St James Cavalier in 2009.

The judge had said it was unacceptable in a "democratic society founded on the rule of law" for any person, no matter what they did, to be allowed to swear in public - even in a theatre as part of a script.

Both the Classification Board and the court ruling were based on the script of the play, even though the producers offered to perform it in court.

The issue of classification and censorship has hit the headlines ever since Nielson's play was banned, amid calls for a change in laws.

Writing in yesterday's The Times, Culture Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco underlined the need to find a way of better protecting the freedom of artistic expression.

"Do our laws reflect 21st century realities? Are they too draconian in nature, giving perhaps too much power to the Classification Board?" he wrote.

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