Year: 1988
Movie / TV: Once in a Lifetime 
Director: Robin Midgley
Others in the Cast: Zoë Wanamaker, David Suchet, Niall Buggy, Kristoffer Tabori, Sheila Gish, Rosemary Leach, Lynda Marchal, Catherine Roman, Brian Blessed

Plot summary: Set in the 1920s just as talking pictures are beginning to transform Hollywood. Three out of work Vaudeville players set up a studio to give elocution lessons to silent movie stars who have failed their voice test. 
Summary of the play: The satirical comedy focuses on the effect talking pictures have on the entertainment industry. When the New York City vaudevillean team of Jerry Hyland, May Daniels, and George Lewis find themselves in a faltering vaudeville act, they decide to head west and present themselves as elocution experts in the hope someone will hire them to train actors unaccustomed to speaking on screen. On the train they meet gossip columnist Helen Hobart, who introduces them to megalomaniac film mogul Herman Glogauer when they arrive in Hollywood. The trio's misadventures include encounters with Lawrence Vail, a New York City playwright driven to distraction and eventually a sanatorium by studio bureaucracy and a lack of work to keep him busy; silent screen beauties Phyllis Fontaine and Florabel Leigh, whose voices sound like nails on a blackboard; two pages in 18th century dress who periodically arrive carrying placards with announcements about Glogauer's latest doings; a ditzy receptionist who wears an evening gown to work; and aspiring actress (and proverbial dumb blonde) Susan Walker and her chaperoning stage mother. Dimwitted George becomes a director who shoots the wrong script, forgets to turn on the soundstage lights, and audibly cracks nuts during filming, yet his movie is called a masterpiece and he's declared a genius by trend-conscious journalists who believe he's ahead of his time. - Wikipedia
Peth’s role: Lawrence Vail
Official website:
BFI page:
Related links:
Record here - scroll down

Full cast and crew here

Analysis of the play: The only person seemingly without hope is Lawrence Vail, the underused playwright and film scenario writer who is shuffled from person to person in an attempt to meet with someone about his work at the studio. Vail is frustrated because, while he draws a paycheck, he also has had no writing assignments. Though Vail is frustrated by the runaround he is getting, he knows that a better life is out there. Vail was happy in New York City as a playwright, and in Act III, he returns home, after a brief stay in a sanitarium just for playwrights such as him.
Once in a Lifetime offered unbridled optimism in stark contrast to the economic situation in the United States at the time. It harkens back to the attitude of the Jazz Age of the 1920s, before the start of the Great Depression.

 Original pic here
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