With Vaudeville on its last legs, May Daniels (Claudie Blakley), Jerry Hyland (Kevin Bishop), and George Lewis (John Marquez) ditch the act and travel westward to try their hands in Hollywood. Acting as elocution teachers, they soon find the best way to succeed in tinsel town: ‘no time wasted on thinking’! The early scenes with heavy exposition are a drag, but the pace picks up by the time they reach Glogauer studios.
The stage cleverly resembles an old-style tannoy, and stylish costumes make golden this age of cinema. Yet the stage feels a bit cramped, particularly in the filming sequences, and the rotating set is underused, left only for scene changes. Director Richard Jones rightly heightens the caricaturesque comedy and cleverly pokes fun at the absurdity of the film business.
But it is the cast who are the real stars. Enfield’s Glogauer waddles about the stage brilliantly, and Blakley’s May is cutting yet good-hearted. Marquez’s George shines brightest as endearing yet slow-witted George, who finds himself the biggest name around town. And Amanda Lawrence gives a small but stupendously funny performance as the studio secretary.
While there’s a loud sound effect every time George eats his nuts, the production does not fully capture the fantastic new world of sound, and the occasional background noises sound a bit muddled.
So while Once in a Lifetime is sharp and certainly entertaining, it lacks the vibrancy and punch that the era merits.
|What||Once in a Lifetime, Young Vic review|
The Young Vic
66 The Cut , Waterloo, London, SE1 8LZ | MAP
|Nearest tube||Southwark (underground)|
25 Nov 16 – 14 Jan 17, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £35|
|Website||Click here for information and tickets|