• Dolphin Theatre (map)
  • 12 Spring Street
  • Onehunga, Auckland, 1061
  • New Zealand


A Comedy
By Ben Elton
Directed by Peter Webster


Sunday 28 May 2017
Rehearsal Hall
Dolphin Theatre
12 Spring Street
1:30pm - 4:00pm

Written in 2000, Ben Elton’s play ‘Gasping’ was first seen at the Theatre Royal in Haymarket, London, starring Hugh Laurie and Iona Grant. The play is a satire on big business, the advertising industry, and the ruthless exploitation of the environment in pursuit of profit.

A sharp-witted satire on the heartlessness of market forces… extremely funny…never, unlike the world’s population, runs out of puff
— Independent
A poisonously funny morality play…a remarkable debut
— Stage Whispers


Lockheart Industries are making serious money, but Sir Chiffley Lockheart is looking for the buzz given by creating an entirely new category for making money where no money existed before. Philip, his pushy workaholic young exec, suggests selling designer air – Perrier for the nostrils – as a privatised alternative to polluted urban fug. The ad agency tycoon Kirsten takes the concept and propels the ‘Suck & Blow’ product into a marketing phenomenon of the decade generating dizzy millions in profit and getting her man along the way. But while the market for oxygen is growing, the world’s supply is diminishing. In the end, something extreme has to happen.

This play had me laughing out loud by the end of page one, and all the way through. Far from being a frivolous, vacuous comedy, Ben Elton makes a strong point about big business that is remarkably relevant today, 17 years after its first publication. But it is the bawdy, laconic and preposterous humour throughout that draws me to Gasping. I am directing this play purely to revel in the Blackadder genre of humour I so adore. And I know that experienced actors will have an absolute ball with this.
— Peter Webster

The script gives most characters plenty of multi-line speeches to deliciously exploit for humour and dramatic impact.  A fast-paced delivery is preferable during these speeches, especially those with content of a blushingly risqué sort. Elton’s humour works particularly well when the outlandish and the preposterous are given a terse, laconic delivery without undue weight.

To achieve an entertaining tempo, I will be keen to help actors make the most of opportunities to shape the dialogue by way of pause and overlaps.

To maintain suspended disbelief, we will update several references throughout the script. (Faxes become texts, shops become distribution channels, Nigel Havers becomes Tom Hiddleston etc etc)

The location of the story is the United Kingdom so a general British accent is called for. However, the character Sandy could be from New Zealand or Australia.

Cast Required

Sir Chiffley Lockheart is a seasoned business magnate who demands outrageous profits with scant regard for customers and the natural environment. Suave, yet appallingly delusional, rather like Ben Elton’s Blackadder. Age range 40’s to 60’s.

“Philip we didn’t create this situation, we only make the machines. If a problem exists, the consumer has created it and thank God we live in a society where the consumer still has a right to create problems.”

Toadying, sycophantic corporate executive. He is ambitious yet with a social conscience. Despite his brilliance as the ‘top man’ he is calamitously and cringingly awkward around the woman he has eyes for. 20's to 40's.

“I see a media backlash, and quite frankly, I’m buggared if perhaps they wouldn’t have a point. I mean, everybody owns the air, don’t they? We don’t really have a right to sell it? Do we? Or what?”

The forceful, feminine, feisty owner of advertising agency 'Image Control' shows the way to shift product, and has the appetite for a certain hot guy at Lockheart Industries. 20's to 50s.

“Why, without free lunch there would be no more pop records, no more television programmes…. Without free food, London would stop moving, we’d be a tiny Third World country in a month.”

The opportunist young exec with a five-mile-high taste for success. 20's to 30’s. The epitome of the politicking ‘yes man’. 

A poisonously funny morality play…a remarkable debut
— Sunday Times

Audition Form

For expressions of interest and audition pieces please fill out the following form below or call.

09 213 8817
021 534 000

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Available Roles
Tick the available roles you wish to audition for.


Tuesdays & Thursdays 7:30 - 10:00 pm
Sundays TBA

Production Dates

4 - 19 August 2017
Two week season only