“I’m not one of those goddam microphone actors,” says the main character of a washed-up alcoholic in Clifford Odets’ play which is currently revived in the West End starring Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove. The theme of Method acting is close to the heart of this play, first produced in 1950. Odets was one of the exponents of the American Method school, along with Lee Strasberg, and helped found the Group Theatre, basing its theory on Stanislavski’s techniques.
The play is set backstage in a theatre and is a study of a deluded alcoholic, Frank Elgin, a one-time big actor, who is given a last chance to prove himself in a lead role. He is not a microphone actor in the sense that he refuses to pull out of the bag a pre-formed act. But crippled by self-doubt, his fear is that he can’t pull it off without resorting to a drink.