Auckland Old Folks Association. 8 Gundry Street (off K' Road), Auckland

17/06/2008 - 22/06/2008

Production Details

Thomas Sainsbury will direct Toby Leach, Tahi Mapp-Borren, Yvette Parsons, Rina Patel and Rashmi Pilapitiya in their devised play Gas opening at Auckland Old Folks Association on June 13th, 2008.

Gas is the darkly comic story of a gas station in Mt Albert. As gas prices soar the employees of the petrol station go about their days.

Cameron is taking his business into the next tri-quarter. Lillith is converting her heathen co-workers. Shantilal is searching for a wife. Kavita is revolutionising fat loss. Desirae is playing with her figurines. And a dark figure is looming in the shadows.

Gas began with a discussion between Rashmi Pilapitiya and Thomas Sainsbury and came from a desire to create an exciting piece of theatre. A petrol station was decided as a setting. The rest of the cast was then called upon and the melting pot began. Gas deals with such diverse themes as sect-based religion, immigration, transgenderism, gas prices soaring through the roof, and price rises forcing the closure of small businesses. But at its base Gas is the kaleidoscope of the unknown Aucklanders who keep this city pumping.

Cameron, the gas station manager, is desperate. Soaring petrol prices are forcing a closure of a local Gull Station. And first on the chopping block is Gull Mount Albert, his pride and joy. Cameron must now go to extreme measures to save his business and take it into the next tri-quarter. Cameron will be played by Toby Leach. Toby has starred in Face Lift, Outrageous Fortune and The Strip. Toby also starred in the sell-out season of Wheeler’s Luck in 2005.

Lillith, a devout Christian, has been banished by her father to the basement of the church. She was banished for sins she didn’t even know she was committing. Now she must prove herself worthy by doing mission work at a petrol station where she can convert all the sinners and the scoffers. Lillith will be played by Tahi Mapp-Borren. Tahi, a graduate of Toi Whakaari, has recently acted in Shortland Street and is in an upcoming Peripetaia production of Chekovs’ The Three Sisters.

Shantilal, a Sikh man with a secret, wants to find the ideal wife. However, when he falls in love with Lillith, a devout Christian, he little realises he’s getting in way over his head. Shantilal will be played by Rashmi Pilapitiya. Rashmi’s recent roles include parts on Shortland Street and A Thousand Apologies.

Kavita is a solo mum with a chip on her shoulder. Kavita is determined to be a business success and believes she knows a winning financial formula when she sees one. However when one business venture fails Kavita must go on the offensive to stay afloat. Kavita will be played by Rina Patel. Rina has recently completed a stint on Shortland Street and A Thousand Apologies.

Desirae, a LARPANZ (Live Action Role-Playing Association of New Zealand) aficionado, is determined to woo Shantilal. However, when she inadvertently humiliates Shantilal, she must pine from afar, waiting for her opportunity to live out her heroic fantasies. Desirae will be played by Yvette Parsons. Yvette has starred in Shortland Street, Outrageous Fortune and recently had a rehearsed reading of her solo show, Silent Night, through the ATC playreadings.

Gas will be written and directed by Thomas Sainsbury. This year Thomas has directed his plays LUV, at The Basement, and Loser and the Herald Theatre. Last year Thomas took part in World Interplay, an international conference for playwrights under 25. Thomas is also currently writing two screenplays and is writing drama for Radio New Zealand.

Gas started its life as a tiny idea and has transformed into a reflection of our times. Come witness the Gas phenomenon.

Auckland Old Folks Association. 8 Gundry Street (off K’ Road)
Tuesday, June 17th – Sunday, June 22nd 8pm 


Toby Leach, Tahi Mapp-Borren, Yvette Parsons, Rina Patel and Rashmi Pilapitya

Ruthless laughter with compassion

Review by Sian Robertson 18th Jun 2008

The peeling ceiling and fluorescent tubes of the Auckland Old Folks’ Association provide an aptly drab atmosphere for a play set in a suburban Auckland petrol station struggling to meet its fiscal targets. The characters are similarly dilapidating.

Cameron (Toby Leach) is the manager of Mt Albert Gull station, trying to run a tight ship. Desperate to make it into the next tri-quarter without getting closed down, Cameron will do anything to ensure they meet their target. Leach also plays Lilith’s father and brother and at least four other incidental characters and he has the range to pull this off with the barest of costume adjustments.

Self-recriminating Lilith (Tahi Mapp-Borren) gets a job at the petrol station in order to ‘weed out evil’ and spread the word of the Lord, in what she believes to be the most sinful part of the city. She’s desperate to live up to her fire-and-brimstone dad’s tyrannical expectations.

Kavita (Rina Patel), single mother of three and unscrupulous but gullible saleswoman, is doing whatever it takes to prove she can take care of her kids and become a millionaire without their useless father.

Shantilal (Rashmi Pilapitiya) is a softly spoken Sikh looking for a wife on an internet dating site. He takes a shine to Lilith and tries to court her but their vastly different backgrounds throw a spanner in the works.

Yvette Parsons is side-splitting as simpleton/mastermind Desirae. She has worked at the Gull for 15 years and is a member of the Live-Action Role Play Association of New Zealand. She also fancies herself as a bit of a knight in shining armour, though her sense of morality is somewhat tarnished. Desirae has the hots for Shantilal, but he’s disgusted by her ludicrous dance moves and transparent attempts to lure him back to her place. She bides her time till she can heroically save the day.

Meanwhile Cameron and Desirae conspire to tamper with their profit margin so as not to be the lowest ranking Gull station, destined for closure.

Devised by its actors, under the nimble direction of Thomas Sainsbury, GAS has all the spontaneous hilarity of improvisation, with the structure and depth of a cohesive vision.

A microcosm of the melting pot that is Auckland, Mt Albert Gull is home to some dysfunctional yet ordinary characters whose humdrum existence becomes a fascinating study of what makes your average Aucklander tick; in this case: petrol prices, religious conviction, sexual diversity, financial security, and cravings for bluebird ripples.

After the show I made a beeline to get myself a pie, chips and toffee pops (spurred on in part by a bit of product placement) and found myself voyeuristically curious about the lives behind the faces behind the counter.

Sainsbury’s trademark is getting you to laugh at other people’s expense – but not without compassion – by exposing the awkward, grimy reality of most people’s everyday existence. After laughing ruthlessly at these familiar weirdos, I left feeling a strange affection for my fellow Aucklanders.

For the budget conscious theatre-goer GAS is excellent bangs for bucks. Its high-octane humour will have you laughing and cringing magnanimously – and long after you leave the venue.


claire van beek February 1st, 2009

This is one of my favourite of Tom's plays. I think it would make such a wonderful sitcom! Everyone put such hard work into devising it and I really think it should have a life further, maybe tv? Months on I still think of it and crack up laughing, especially when I think of wonderful Desirae.

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