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Ben Elton's Gasp at Limelight Theatre

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Ben Elton play wants you to breathe easy – for a price
Ben Elton, Gasp!, Gasping, Limelight Theatre, comedy, performing arts, play, satire
Ben Elton's Gasp! features Lisa Michelle, left, Usman Banday, Mark Fitzpatrick, Joel Coyle and Federica Longo-Huntington.


Take a breath of fresh air - Ben Elton's Gasp! is coming to Limelight Theatre. Directed by Phil Bedworth, it's a modern re-working of Elton's original 1990 play Gasping updated for an Australian audience.

Australian mining company Lockheart Industries is looking for the next big idea to make the company millions and starts producing "designer air" with its revolutionary Suck-and-Blow machine. As a result, air becomes a commodity, like fuel or food, and can be bought and sold according to market forces.

Ben Elton, Gasp!, Gasping, Limelight Theatre, comedy, performing arts, play, satire
Joel Coyle plays senior executive Sandy in Ben Elton's Gasp!

"It is a dark, satirical look at how the privatisation of the most basic human need can be influenced by big business and profit," Phil said. "Anyone who knows the work of Ben Elton will understand his writing is of such intellect, wit and observation that any performance of his works cannot be done without understanding the rhythm and nuances laced throughout it.

"Every word in the script has to be understood because none are there superfluously. As a satire like this demands, finding the right emphasis and timing for each line has to be carefully analysed to do it the justice it deserves. Thankfully, I have been smart enough to surround myself with incredible people on and off-stage who also understand these elements – the talent on display is amazing."

Ben Elton, Gasp!, Gasping, Limelight Theatre, comedy, performing arts, play, satire
Federica Longo-Huntington is high-flying marketing executive Kirsten.


First treading the boards in a 1990 high school production of Oliver Twist, Phil didn't take to the stage again until 2019 when he was cast as Dr Watson in An Evening with Sherlock Holmes at Limelight Theatre. He has since appeared in the musical Rock of Ages and The Two of Us and as Sir Humphrey in Yes, Prime Minister at KADS Theatre – and has also played an evil psychopath in the film Fading Numbers.

Ben Elton, Gasp!, Gasping, Limelight Theatre, comedy, performing arts, play, satire
Ben Elton's Gasp! features Mark Fitzpatrick as mining magnate Chifley Lockheart.

"I saw the 2014 production of Gasp! at the Heath Ledger Theatre and loved it," Phil said. "It's funny in a way that makes you take a very introspective view of your world in a manner that only Ben Elton's work can. When I was contemplating a show to direct, I wanted to find something that was biting, funny, relevant and different.

"Gasp! immediately came to mind as a show that would be able to break the mould of what's usually offered to theatre audiences. Being set in Australia means everyone who comes to see the show will find it enjoyable, while also providing plenty of food for thought."

Ben Elton, Gasp!, Gasping, Limelight Theatre, comedy, performing arts, play, satire
Ben Elton re-worked his original 1990 play Gasping into Gasp! for an Australian audience


Ben Elton has written 17 bestselling books including Stark, Gridlock, Popcorn and Two Brothers, some of TV's most popular comedy series (Blackadder, The Young Ones, The Thin Blue Line and Upstart Crow), as well as West End, plays and the hit musical We Will Rock You. In 2014, he spoke to Scenestr about adapting his original play Gasping into Gasp! "It's funny to try and describe because it's the same play, but it's extremely different. There's more characters in it, there's a sort of love interest in it, I'm just better at storytelling than I was then.

"Gasping as it was in 1989 – even though it was a big success – was essentially a very long sketch. Since then, I've written a lot of novels and a lot more TV and directed a film, and I just know more about storytelling. I've had the rare privilege of being able to take what was and still is a good idea, and do a better job with it. Most people don't get that chance."

Ben Elton, Gasp!, Gasping, Limelight Theatre, comedy, performing arts, play, satire
Ben Elton gaining his Australian citizenship in 2004 from former Fremantle Mayor Peter Tagliaferri.


He also told XS Entertainment: "It's still not Chekov in terms of psychological astuteness but it's got more to offer the audience in terms of character development. It's more of a character-driven story and narrative than an ideas-driven polemic, which it was originally – a load of gags with a big satirical sledgehammer point to make at the end of it."

Ben Elton's Gasp! plays at 8pm September 23, 24, 25, 30, October 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 with a 2pm matinee October 2. Tickets are $23, $20 concession – book at www.limelighttheatre.com.au or call 0499 954 016 between 9am and 12pm, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Limelight Theatre is on Civic Drive, Wanneroo.

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Why? It’s a satire on big business, the media and product exploitation from the man who brought you the same sharp wit in The Young Ones and Blackadder.
When: 8pm September 23, 24, 25, 30, October 1, 2, 7, 8 & 9; 2pm October 2
Phone: 0499 954 016
Where: Limelight Theatre, Civic Drive, Wanneroo
Cost: $23, $20 concession
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