Audience member arrested during London theatre performance for refusing to wear a mask

Police handcuffed and removed the man during a show by former NHS doctor Adam Kay

Holly Bancroft
Thursday 16 December 2021 13:00 GMT
A live performance at the Rose Theatre in Kingston was disrupted on Tuesday night after a member of the audience refused to put on a mask.
A live performance at the Rose Theatre in Kingston was disrupted on Tuesday night after a member of the audience refused to put on a mask. (

An audience member was handcuffed and arrested during a live theatre performance on Tuesday night after he refused to wear a mask properly.

The incident happened during a show at the Rose Theatre in Kingston-upon-Thames. Dr Adam Kay, a former NHS doctor and now a best-selling author, was performing a show about his experiences as a junior doctor and spotted a man in the audience wearing a mask around his nose and chin.

He stopped the performance to ask the man to put the mask on properly several times and other audience members joined in by jeering and slow handclapping, according to The Telegraph.

Dr Kay then asked the theatre’s front-of-house staff to speak to the man. However the man refused to comply with mask-wearing restrictions so the show had to be stopped - with Dr Kay escorted offstage - while the man was handcuffed and removed from the theatre by four police officers.

The man had told Dr Kay that he did not have to wear the mask properly because he was drinking and eating while watching the performance.

He also told Dr Kay to watch videos of Neil Oliver, the TV historian and GB News presenter, who has been vocal in his criticism of masks and argued that they do not make a difference in preventing the spread of Covid.

As of December 10, face coverings are now required by law, including in theatres. Masks are not legally required in hospitality settings “given that they cannot be worn while eating and drinking”.

People who do not follow the rules will face a £200 fine.

In a statement to The Telegraph, who first reported the story, Dr Kay explained the incident saying: “During the show, a man was proudly wearing his mask around his chin and, when asked by multiple people to wear it more appropriately, became extremely disruptive and rude to theatre staff, to the extent that the show became badly affected.

“He told theatre staff that they’d have to call the police to stop his disruptive behaviour, which they eventually had no option but to do. He asked me repeatedly to ‘Watch the vides of Neil Oliver’, which I won’t”.

The Rose Theatre said in a statement that face coverings “help to keep our audiences, artists and staff safe” and added: “This measure increases the likelihood that theatres will remain open throughout the winter.

“We thank our front of house colleagues for dealing so well with a challenging situation and the audience for their overwhelming positive feedback.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in