16 Nov

“Playwrights are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” Percy B Shelley.

Ok, Shelley actually wrote “poets”, not “playwrights”, but then he wasn’t at New Theatre last night for the opening of Ben Elton’s Gasping. [Though, with the plethora of penis jokes, and a first name like his, he would’ve been right at home.]

Elton’s play is a powerful satire on greed, and its ostensible target is Big Business.

Director Helen Tonkin elicits engaging performances from her entire cast, with Oliver Wenn, Julia Kennedy Scott and Natalie Rees the comic standouts.

Comedy empowers. When someone laughs, as J M Barrie would have it, a fairy is born. And those little fuckers are magic, and they’re going to fix up the mess we’ve made of this world.

Ok, I don’t actually believe in fairies. Because we are the fairies, and when we laugh, the dead weight of habit is lifted from us, and we can fly.

Elton’s satire brings in to full focus not just imagined injustices, but also very real ones, and targets not just Big Business, but all those complicit in the society that fosters it. Comedy makes us feel we’re strong enough to change this world.

Now, have we got the will?

 Veronica Kaye


New Theatre

16 Nov to 10 Dec

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