Just Stop Oil protesters interrupt West End performance of Les Miserables as police arrest demonstrators

The show at the Sondheim Theatre in London's West End was halted after demonstrators rushed to the stage

Protesters from the environmental campaign group Just Stop Oil disrupted a performance of Les Miserables in London's West End last night (4 October).

The demonstration took place at the Sondheim Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue at around 9pm. Demonstrators took to the stage during a performance of the song 'Do You Hear The People Sing?'

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Just Stop Oil confirmed that four campaigners had locked themselves to the stage using flexible bicycle locks. In a video of the incident circulating on social media, audience members could be heard booing the protesters.

The audience was evacuated from the theatre by 9.10pm and the performance was stopped. Just Stop Oil appeared to draw a parallel between their cause and the show's focus on the French Revolution and uprising.

Just Stop Oil protesters rushed the stage of the Sondheim Theatre in London while a performance of Les Miserable was ongoing. (Credit: Just Stop Oil/PA Wire)Just Stop Oil protesters rushed the stage of the Sondheim Theatre in London while a performance of Les Miserable was ongoing. (Credit: Just Stop Oil/PA Wire)
Just Stop Oil protesters rushed the stage of the Sondheim Theatre in London while a performance of Les Miserable was ongoing. (Credit: Just Stop Oil/PA Wire) | Just Stop Oil/PA Wire

In a statement, Just Stop Oil said one of those taking part in the protest action was community worked Hannah Taylor, 23, who said:

"The show starts with Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving child. How long before we are all forced to steal loaves of bread? How long before there are riots on the streets? The show cannot go on."

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Emissions created by new oil and gas projects - like the recently-approved Rosebank oil field - meant crop failure, starvation and death, she said, "an utter betrayal of young people".

"Am I not, like Jean Valjean, justified in breaking the law to oppose this criminal government and its murderous policies? Ask yourself, will you, like the citizens of Paris in the play, stand by and watch, or will you stand up against our governments' criminal plans and call for an end to new oil and gas?" she continued.

Just Stop Oil protesters locked themselves to the Sondheim Theatre stage with flexible bike locks. (Credit: Just Stop Oil/PA Wire)Just Stop Oil protesters locked themselves to the Sondheim Theatre stage with flexible bike locks. (Credit: Just Stop Oil/PA Wire)
Just Stop Oil protesters locked themselves to the Sondheim Theatre stage with flexible bike locks. (Credit: Just Stop Oil/PA Wire) | Just Stop Oil/PA Wire

Les Misérables depicted a society where hardworking people struggled to afford food, and were ruled by widely-despised, unelected leaders who repressed democracy, while amassing wealth for themselves and their cronies, Just Stop Oil wrote, which the group said could also describe the United Kingdom under Rishi Sunak and "his reign of climate chaos".

William Village, chief executive of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, said: “During the first half of our performance of Les Miserables, individuals from Just Stop Oil invaded the stage, abruptly stopping the show. Following our safety protocols, the audience were asked to leave the auditorium and the Met Police attended.

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He added that the rest of the performance was cancelled, saying: "Regrettably, there was insufficient time to enable us to complete the rest of the performance. Whilst we recognise the importance of free expression, we must also respect our audience’s right to enjoy the event for which they have paid.”

In a statement, the Met Police confirmed that officers arrested five people in connection with the incident. The force said: “At about 9pm tonight, police were called to a protest inside a theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, WC1.

“Local officers were quickly on scene and five people have been arrested.”

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