Rossiter – A Play in One Act
by Jim Blythe
Leonard Rossiter was one of the leading comic actors of his generation. He was impatient, nervy, energetic, athletic, committed, and thoroughly professional. He was also a man of paradoxes – a committed husband who nevertheless had a long-standing affair, a working-class man who kept a fine wine cellar, an amateur actor who became a professional, a theatrical performer whose greatest fame came from his television work.
This play explores his life, his work and his motivations. Set backstage at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, we find Rossiter preparing for his nightly performance as Inspector Truscott in Joe Orton’s “Loot”. This was to be his final role – he died backstage, in his dressing room, of a heart condition associated with athletes.
To die at the age of 57 may be seen as a tragedy: it was certainly a great loss to the theatre. To die backstage was, to an actor of Rossiter’s stature, only to be expected – he was far too prolific, far too hard-working, to have been seen dead anywhere else.
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