Theater: Drinking Man's Actor

Sweating, burbling, belching, he shouts his anguish to the world as the curtain rises. It is the beginning of a breathtaking performance that lasts longer than Hamlet and is as taxing as Lear. It is Nicol Williamson playing the lead in John Osborne's Inadmissible Evidence (TIME, Dec. 10) the most bravura performance by a newcomer that Broadway has seen in over a decade.

Reports of Williamson's skyrocketing fame and fiery behavior preceded him. In England, he became notorious for demanding his audience's complete and rapt attention; when latecomers interrupted the play, he had the curtain lowered and began again. Rehearsing...

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