REVIEW: Gasping, Lantern Theatre

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Ben Elton originally wrote this big business satire in 1990 but revised it ten years later.

Elton’s familiar intelligent dialogue draws plenty of laughs from the audience but has a serious message.

Needing an exciting new product for Lockheart Industries, Philip comes up with the ludicrous idea of selling designer air.

Naturally chief executive Sir Chifley is impressed.

Elton’s clever eye for boardroom jargon and rhetoric is spot on.

Kevin Jackson’s Philip is excited by the company’s profits but sycophantic Sandy, played by Sam Parkinson is even more excited.

Elton’s trademark humour brings out the macho culture of office life.

The excellent Simon Atherton, who plays Sir Chifley to a tee, has “hobbed with the rich and nobbed with the beautiful.”

When people get too close to Sandy their ears start bleeding.

Inevitably the world starts running out of oxygen as profit becomes more important than human safety. Jean Michel-Jarre’s Oxygene plays in the background and set crew file on wearing white suits and breathing masks.

There is a clever nod to world hunger with “Breathathons”. The air economy also plays out like the oil crisis. In a couple of scenes the executives are suffering as they run out of oxygen. They are literally rolling on the floor.

I found myself taking slightly deeper breaths. You can’t be too careful.

Sarah Spencer is sassy ad-girl Kirsten. She proves it’s never a good idea to mix business with pleasure.