Playwright Kevin Elyot

Sad news that playwright Kevin Elyot, author of My Night with Reg, to be revived for the first time in London next month at the Donmar Warehouse, has died after a long illness.

He was a wonderful writer who rode the crest of new wave plays about modern homosexual love, loss and betrayal without seeming to aim for a niche market, though the later TV movie, Clapham Junction (2007), was a pretty full-on study of the South London gay underground community.

Elyot was born in Birmingham in 1951 and was a chorister at that city's cathedral before moving on to Bristol University and starting his career as an actor.

His impressive writing debut at the Bush, with Coming Clean in 1982, signalled a rare new talent, though My Night With Reg (1994), first commissioned and rejected by Hampstead Theatre, took time to surface in the Royal Court's upstairs studio under Stephen Daldry, where it was brilliantly directed by Roger Michell. It was an absolute copper-bottomed smash and transferred for a long run to the Criterion.

The thing about Reg was its form as much as its subject matter: a black-laced comedy of gay affections composed in three short movements, each section divided by a period of time and death. It was instantly accessible while being gloriously experimental.

In The Day I Stood Still (1998) at the National, he experimented even further, not as successfully, with time shifts between the past and present in charting the unrequited passions of a music-loving loner in north London. He adapted Ostrovsky's Artists and Admirers for the RSC, and Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone for BBC TV.

And he also wrote the rather daring anachronistic "adaptations" of Agatha Christie stories for television, as well as a TV movie, three years ago, Christopher and His Kind, which used Christopher Isherwood's documentation of his life in Berlin with W H Auden and others, and starred Matt Smith, Imogen Poots and Lindsay Duncan.

I've seen Kevin walking around South End Green in Hampstead, where he lived, only quite recently, not looking at all well, almost a skeleton of himself. He was a charming and clever fellow, and his death is a sad loss for our theatre and television.

Commenting on his passing, the Donmar Warehouse have said:

"The Donmar Warehouse is hugely saddened to hear of Kevin Elyot's death. Director Robert Hastie had been working with Kevin on script preparation, casting and design for the forthcoming 20th anniversary production of Kevin's play MY NIGHT WITH REG. Kevin's passing makes the whole team at the Donmar resolved to present the production in tribute to Kevin's life and work. In the meantime our thoughts and condolences are with Kevin's friends and family."