Equity, the actors’ union, had issued a warning about her as long ago as 2006.
Actors and stage technicians had complained they had been left out of pocket
after appearing in productions by Reynolds. But it took until last week to
finally bring her to justice.
Reynolds pleaded guilty to eight charges including VAT fraud, having a false
driving licence and falsifying legal letters and will be sentenced later
She claimed VAT credits in the name of bogus theatre companies including Myths
and Mirrors, Dreamweavers and Plan B at different locations around the
Winchester Crown Court heard Claire and Chess Eliot were just two of a string
of disguises Reynolds used to claim tax credits in the name of theatre
companies that did not exist.
Reynolds, 42, from Southampton, even wrote a play â€“ about a woman who uses a
false identity to become a Hollywood producer â€“ to make her claim appear
Her first known fraud appears to have been committed in 2001 when under the
guise of Jessica Maynard, she worked for the Southern Arts Board in
Winchester, where she paid a grant to herself using the alias Kat Mallory.
In 2003, she moved to Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire where she pretended
to be identical twins Claire and Chess Eliot, setting up The Journeyman
Theatre Company and writing a play, Desperately Seeking Jake Roverton, to
make her scam more compelling.
She even convinced managers at The Brewhouse theatre to let her rehearse there
free of charge as well as persuading them to let her run courses.
The ruse was rumbled after theatre staff became suspicious that they had never
seen Claire and Chess in the same room. Confronted by staff, she claimed to
be in fact Denise Bryan. Staffordshire police investigated but did not find
enough evidence to charge her.
A year later, Reynolds resurfaced in Sheffield using the alias Rebecca Perry,
this time promoting a UK tour of play, Picture Perfect, by her new
enterprise, Dreamweavers Theatre Company.
Picture perfect was in fact a version of Desperately Seeking Jake Roverton.
The National Lottery Awards for All Scheme gave her Â£5,000 for the play
while the Arts Council handed her a further Â£3,000.
Reynolds subsequently fled Sheffield with Â£7,500 debts.
Next she went to Bristol setting up Plan B Theatre Company using the assumed
name Alison Kennedy, peddling a new play called Holding out for a Hero,
which was another rewrite of her old plays.
The project collapsed with actors left unpaid but not before Reynolds had
collected further grants. She went on to repeat the fraud in Bath, forming
the Mythic Dreams Theatre Company.
Equity said at the time: “One of our members said she initially thought
she was misguided and incompetent. She now realises she is malicious and
It is not clear how Reynolds was finally caught but that should become clear
at her sentencing later this month. Prosecutors accepted her guilty pleas
and chose not to push for a trial on 12 other similar charges.