( b. Sep 16, 1924 - d. Apr 14, 2009 ) Male
Royce Ryton, the flamboyant actor and dramatist, who has died aged 84, was a striking example of a one-hit wonder. Crown Matrimonial, his 1972 abdication drama, was a surprise, almost anachronistic, success at the Theatre Royal, Hay-market, and was widely performed all over the world as well as being filmed for television with Wendy Hiller and Peter Barkworth repeating their stage roles as the old Queen Mary and her son King Edward VIII.
Ryton was an old-school traditionalist with a surprising streak of libertarianism, a conflict that lay at the heart of all he wrote. Queen Mary represented the virtues of duty and loyalty that he admired, but he also felt that affairs of the heart should be free. He respected them, whatever their manifestation, and Edward's love for Wallis Simpson created a well-written volatility for his play, set in Marlborough House, the queen's Pall Mall mansion, in 1936.
Four years after Crown Matrimonial, he represented another old queen on the stage, this time an alcoholic, old-fashioned repertory actor, Terry Jenkins, a role Ryton played himself opposite another, much younger, out-of-work actor, posing as a lorry driver, whom Jenkins picks up in a local public lavatory. The play, The Other Side of the Swamp, was a touching gay drama that proved, despite Joan Kemp-Welch's beautifully controlled production at the King's Head in Islington, too explicitly outré for the general taste of the time, and it never transferred to the West End.
As Terry, Ryton screeched and flounced around the stage in a performance one critic summed up as "a fine amalgam of neurosis, pathos and gaiety". He appeared repulsive and grotesque, but also carried off moments of almost unbearable self-exposure in confessing a dependency on drink and pills that had brought him to the brink of bankruptcy.