Romany Rye

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Romany Rye is a melodrama by G.R.(George Robert) Sims (1847-1922)[1].

The original text

Possibly inspired by The Romany Rye an 1857 novel by George Borrow (1803–1881)[2], but - unlike the novel - set in the streets of London, the play was first produced by Wilson Barrett at the Princess's Theatre, London as Romany Rye.

It was performed on 4 June 1888 at the Britannia Theatre, London as The Romany Rye.

There is also mention of a play called Romany Rye, anecdotally ascribed to Wilson Barrett (1846-1904)[3], but as no such text can be found, this was probably due to his central role as the producer of Sims's play, and not the author of a new text.

Translations and adaptations

Adapted as a silent filmed called The Life Line[4] in 1919 , directed by Maurice Tourneur and starring Jack Holt, Wallace Beery and Lew Cody.

Performance history in South Africa

1885: Performed as The Romany Rye in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, produced by Mr H.C. Sidney and partner Mr H.J. Fiedler during the course of the year.


D.C. Boonzaier. 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.381.

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