Members of the Woodhouse Players Theatre Group chase thief in full period costume along High Road, Leytonstone

A group photo taken of the full cast hours before the chase

A group photo taken of the full cast hours before the chase

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Actors in period costume chased a thief along a busy high street after he was caught red-handed rifling through bags in the dressing room.

The Woodhouse Players, a theatre group based at the Welsh Church Hall in High Road, Leytonstone, had taken their final bow at the end of 17th century play, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, when the real-life drama began. 

The production is set in the 1600s when it first became legal for women to play female roles during the rule of King Charles II. 

Dressed as the Duke of Buckingham, James Killeen, 39, of Grosvenor Road in Wanstead, returned to the dressing room to discover a stranger rummaging through bags.

He said: "We didn't recognise the guy. he had cuts on his face and was a bit disorientated. 

"He had his hand in a lady's bag. I said to him I'll escort him to the bathroom to clear up his cut but then he just kept walking. 

"Something definitely was not right and then he started running." 

A "proper pursuit" ensued after a cast member shouted out that her iPhone was missing. 

Four cast members, including Mo Wooten from Limehouse, who was dressed as King Charles II, gave chase into Bushwood, joined by audience members and waiters from the Star of India restaurant.

Mr Killeen added: "Those driving along the High Road must have thought they were having a funny turn at the sight of me, King Charles II and Margaret Hughes (the first ever English actress), dashing across the road in hot pursuit of the thief. "

They caught up with the thief near the North Star pub in Browning Road, who eventually handed over the iPhone sent on his way.

Police soon arrived and took statements from the cast members. 

Mr Killeen, whose day job is an IT manager, said he was determined not to let the thief get away.

"It was just an instinct and looking back, I'm quite surprised at myself,” he added.

"You put your heart and soul into the performance so we wasn't going to let him get away with it," said the 39 year-old. 

Comments (6)

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3:04pm Thu 31 Jul 14

ChazFinch says...

Perhaps Hue and cry for the next production?
Perhaps Hue and cry for the next production? ChazFinch
  • Score: 0

4:04pm Thu 31 Jul 14

myopinioncounts says...

Why did they let him go? Probably responsible for many other crimes already and now free to carry on. What a load of plonkers!
Why did they let him go? Probably responsible for many other crimes already and now free to carry on. What a load of plonkers! myopinioncounts
  • Score: -7

8:34am Fri 1 Aug 14

AlexRyde says...

People who are caught stealing will generally return what they have at first if it looks like they might be let go. When they start to realise the police are coming, they get more desperate and more prone to violence. I don't blame Jim and the rest of them for letting him go. They were hardly in a position to detain him indefinitely until the police arrived. Well done to you all, I say.
People who are caught stealing will generally return what they have at first if it looks like they might be let go. When they start to realise the police are coming, they get more desperate and more prone to violence. I don't blame Jim and the rest of them for letting him go. They were hardly in a position to detain him indefinitely until the police arrived. Well done to you all, I say. AlexRyde
  • Score: -3

8:48am Fri 1 Aug 14

Villagecranberry says...

One uniform not to be seen as usual was a police uniform as like Walthamstow, the police are a rare sight. It is an ordeal visiting anywhere in the vicinity of the Walnut tree as you get constant harassment from beggars, vagabonds, thieves, vermin, big issue sellers, hot chestnut salesmen and druggies asking for money for a hamburger.
One uniform not to be seen as usual was a police uniform as like Walthamstow, the police are a rare sight. It is an ordeal visiting anywhere in the vicinity of the Walnut tree as you get constant harassment from beggars, vagabonds, thieves, vermin, big issue sellers, hot chestnut salesmen and druggies asking for money for a hamburger. Villagecranberry
  • Score: -3

10:12am Fri 1 Aug 14

DaveInTheForest says...

perhaps a good old bit of period punishment is in order - stocks or lashes.
perhaps a good old bit of period punishment is in order - stocks or lashes. DaveInTheForest
  • Score: -1

8:36am Sat 2 Aug 14

Villagecranberry says...

Worthy of merit and praise from the dude in purple shirt.

http://www.guardian-
series.co.uk/news/wf
news/11370014.Thousa
nds_turn_out_for_bor
ough_s_biggest_garde
n_party/
Worthy of merit and praise from the dude in purple shirt. http://www.guardian- series.co.uk/news/wf news/11370014.Thousa nds_turn_out_for_bor ough_s_biggest_garde n_party/ Villagecranberry
  • Score: -4

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