Dark comedy group blasted for musical on Shannon Matthews' kidnapping

Sell-out Edinburgh Fringe Festival comedy musical about Shannon Matthews’ disappearance is branded ‘cruel and disgusting’ by outraged critics

  • Dark comedy group K*** and the Gang sold out their controversial £10-a-night fictional musical on the 2008 disappearance of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews
  • Critics have previously branded the contentious show ‘cruel and disgusting’ 
  • Then nine-year-old Shannon was drugged and tied up by her own mother
  • ‘Britain’s worst mother’ Karen Matthews planned to pocket the £50k reward 

Furious critics have branded a controversial sold-out comedy musical which jokes about the disappearance of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews ‘cruel and disgusting’. 

Dark comedy group K*** and the Gang have sold out their four-week run of ‘Shannon Matthews: The Musical’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month.

Nine-year-old Shannon was the victim of a faked kidnapping by ‘Britain’s worst mother’ Karen Matthews in 2008, who drugged, tied up and hid her own daughter as she plotted to pocket a £50,000 reward. 

K*** and the Gang’s fictional musical, which focuses its jokes on the true story of the schoolgirl’s fake abduction, will features songs such as ‘Shannon’s not dead (she’s under my bed)’.

Other tunes that will feature in the musical include: ‘Different Dads and ‘Can’t Work, Won’t Work’. 

The group, who infamously tried to launch their foul-mouthed jingle ‘Boris Johnson is a f*****g c**t’ to the top of the UK Christmas Singles chart, have faced fierce criticism over the £10-a-ticket show.

Its most outspoken critics include Dewsbury’s Tory MP Mark Eastwood, who helped in the search for missing Shannon in 2008, and local Labour councillor Mussarat Pervaiz who blasted the show’s trivialisation as ‘disgusting’. 

Speaking out today, local councillors described the comedy show as ‘bang out of order’ and warned it could be triggering for the schoolgirl who has since been given an entirely new identity.

The comedy group have performances throughout August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, one of the world’s largest arts festivals which has been held since 1947.

Dark comedy group K*** and the Gang have sold out their four-week run of ‘Shannon Matthews: The Musical’ (pictured: A poster for the show) at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month


The performance is based on the true story of the faked abduction of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews, who was reported missing in 2008. After a major search, the schoolgirl was found hidden in the base of a bed in a grotty flat just a mile away from her home in Dewsbury, West Yorks. It transpired that her mum Karen Matthews had planned the whole thing with Michael Donovan – her then partner’s uncle – in a bid to split £50,000 reward money.

The bed that Shannon was hidden in inside Donovan’s squalid flat. A policeman had tears in his eyes for a new documentary where he described finding her

Nine-year-old Shannon was kidnapped by Matthews and Donovan, who planned to generate money from the publicity in 2008.

They had planned for Donovan to release Shannon at Dewsbury Market, ‘discover her’, and then take her to a police station and claim a £50,000 reward.

After a major search, the schoolgirl was found hidden in the base of a bed in a grotty flat just a mile away from her home in Dewsbury, West Yorks.

It transpired that her mother Karen Matthews had planned the whole thing with Michael Donovan – her then-partner’s uncle – in a bid to split £50,000 reward money.

K*** and the Gang have taken to social media to thank people for coming to see the show, and have posted some of the five-star reviews they have received.

Schoolgirl Shannon Matthews was the victim in a faked kidnapping by ‘Britain’s worst mother’ Karen Matthews in 2008, who had plotted to pocket a £50,000 reward.

Then a nine-year-old, she was kidnapped by her own mother who had planned to generate money from the ensuing publicity. 

They had planned for Donovan to release Shannon at Dewsbury Market, ‘discover her’, and then take her to a police station and claim a £50,000 reward.

The missing schoolgirl was found drugged, tied up and hidden in the base of a divan bed in West Yorkshire – 24 days after she disappeared.

Matthews and her then boyfriend Michael Donovan were found guilty of kidnapping, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Karen Matthews was released from prison in April 2012 after serving just half her sentence. She was given a new taxpayer-funded identity and home.

She is banned from seeing Shannon and her other children, who were put in care. 

In 2020 it was announced that kidnapped Shannon Matthews and her siblings would be granted lifelong anonymity after the High Court granted an ‘extraordinary’ injunction.

The sweeping order prevents their new names, addresses and jobs from ever being revealed or published unless a court agrees, court documents show.

Fan Ben Rutherford posted to Facebook: ‘The last time I laughed so hard at a musical with such crude and offensive humour, I’m talking my jaw and cheeks hurting from laughing too much and tears streaming down my face, struggling for breath, was The Book Of Mormon.

‘Considering I listened to the soundtrack of this so many times for the past few years, this has a good chance of being even funnier for me.’

One social media user said the musical ‘exceeded my expectations on so many levels’.

But outspoken critics have responded in kind.

Dewsbury West Councillor Ammar Anwar has said the musical is ‘bang out of order’ and ‘should have never been allowed’.

He said: ‘Just imagine being that poor girl Shannon Matthews, and re-living the ordeal all over again.

‘I think they are cruel and sadistic movements for her to live again.

‘I think people should let her move on in life, and let her forget about what happened in the past.

‘The actions taken by her family were disgraceful.

‘The musical should have never been allowed by any authority around Britain, and it is a disgusting and evil act by them.

‘Even if the musical isn’t that bad, it is affecting Shannon Matthews in some way or form.

‘Even though they are not the exact same moments that happened with her, we will never know the truth but it is still wrong what’s going on.’

The group performed two sold out shows in Leeds, West Yorks,. in July, where people branded it as ‘disgusting’

One social media user said: ‘There is a musical coming out about Shannon Matthews and I can’t even find the words to describe how vile that is.

‘A ‘comedy duo’ using the drugging and kidnap of an actual child as entertainment. WTF man.’

Janet Ayre posted on Facebook: ‘This is a sick joke, why would anyone make a musical about anything so horrendous?

‘Further, why would anyone in their right minds go to see it?’

Kunt and the Gang describe the musical as ‘a fictional representation based on research from previous media publications.’

A description on the group’s website says the musical is ‘a foul-mouthed romp through one of the most bizarre news stories of recent years’.

Matthews (left) and co-conspirator Michael Donovan (right) were both sentenced to eight years in prison in January 2009 and released in 2012 after serving half their sentences

It adds the 75 minute audio musical, which needs to be brought to life on the stage, is ‘not for the faint hearted’.

They group are selling t-shirts that say ‘Have you seen Shannon Matthews the musical’ on, with a cartoon picture of Shannon.

Matthews and Donavan had planned to release the schoolgirl, ‘discover her’, then take her to a police station and claim the £50,000 reward before splitting the cash.

But Matthews broke down and admitted to the cruel plot when questioned by her friends in front of a police liaison officer.

On December 4, 2008, mother-of-seven Karen and Donovan were found guilty of kidnapping, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Both were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court to eight years behind bars.

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