This was the darkly comic premise on which Ben Elton based his first play, the hilarious and critically acclaimed satirical comedy Gasping. First performed in London in 1990, starring Hugh Laurie; it has been revisited by Elton and reimagined for a new century and a new country.
This major rewrite Gasp! relocates the story to an Australia grown giddy on the resources boom. Corporate powerhouse Lockheart Industries is already making a mint, but too much money is never enough. Their genius plan to privatise the air we breathe, with the 'Suck and Blow' filtering machine is an instant hit and sales soar. But it splits the planet into the haves and the have-nots – and if you can't pay, you don't breathe.
Infused with the sarcastic, sharp wit that made Elton a household name (The Young Ones, Blackadder), the play is a breathtaking, biting, brilliantly funny satire on the heartlessness of big business and the ruthlessness of the advertising industry. And it's as relevant and hilarious as ever. Continuing Queensland Theatre Company's fertile collaboration with Western Australia's Black Swan State Theatre Company, Gasp! draws cast members from Brisbane and Perth.