Lee Evans, Keeley Hawes and Sheila Hancock in Barking in Essex
Lee Evans, Keeley Hawes and Sheila Hancock in Barking in Essex

Keeley Hawes has left the cast of WhatsOnStage Award-nominated comedy Barking in Essex in mysterious circumstances.

The actress released the following statement through the show's website and on Twitter earlier this week:

"It is with much regret that I must announce to all ticket holders that I will no longer be performing as Chrissie Packer in Barking In Essex for the remainder of the show.

"I have been utterly committed to the show to date and I would like to offer my most sincere apologies to those who have purchased a ticket to see me and I hope this does not cause significant inconvenience for anyone affected."

Hawes, best known for her many TV credits including Spooks, Ashes To Ashes and Upstairs Downstairs, made her professional stage debut two years ago in the National Theatre's revival of Clifford Odet's Rocket To The Moon.

Also in the cast of Barking in Essex are Lee Evans, Sheila Hancock, Karl Johnson and Montserrat Lombard.

Billed as a "diabolically funny play", Clive Exton's posthumously premiered caper centres on Algie Packer (Evans), a notorious Essex gangster and his dysfunctional family.

Nobody from the show, which continues at Wyndham's Theatre until 4 January 2014, was available for comment.