note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey
Twenty years ago only snobs drank Perrier. Now everyone buys designer water. Are California’s trendy Oxygen Bars destined for every corner of the country? Not bloody likely, I hear you saying. Well, we pay for compressed air for our tires and for forced air in our baseboards, so why not the very air that we breathe?
Ben Elton’s wacky comedy of corporate manners, GASPING (through Nov. 3rd at the Charlestown Working Theater) airs that very proposition in extremis. The humor is broad and very, very British. Think BENNY HILL meets MONTY PYTHON. Here’s a clue: Elton calls his mega air purifier the “Suck and Blow” so if you love those BBC imports, then GASPING is your cup of tea.
Even if potty humor isn’t your kettle of noodles, you’ll be delighted by THEATRE ON FIRE director Darren Evans’ physical derring-do. Craig Houk, channeling John Cleese, gets a hilarious massage (from an unseen masseur) which hurls him head over heels on top of a tiny collapsible table. They should sign him up posthaste for the next Olympic gymnastic team! Then, if that weren’t enough, he out Chaplins the master on imaginary ice, not to mention dropping trou in classic slapstick form. I’m not a fan of Benny Hill and I thought the shtick was capitol!
Evans’ whole cast is spot on, at the British say. David Frank plays the heck out of the insatiable corporate chief who happily profits from the suffering of others. Nathaniel Gundy is a rising star in the corporation (and the theater, I predict) and Crystal Lisbon is the brilliant PR wiz whose copy, not to mention her sex appeal, is “savage.” And their accents are perfection!
Elton (whose BLACK ADDER made Rowan Atkinson a household name) trowels on the “message” a bit too thick toward the end of the play, when we’ve already gotten the point. But there’s a lot to be said for a show which will give you a giggle from now on whenever you mist your philodendron.