Orlando Fringe Review: Oyster Boy
Haste Theatre’s Oyster Boy, inspired by the Tim Burton character, tells the mirthfully melancholy tale of Jim (Valeria Compagnoni), a guileless gelato vendor who meets cute with Alice (Anna Plasberg-Hill) along the seashore. Following a fishy wedding feast, she gives birth to a boy with a shellfish skull, embodied by a charmingly crude rag-doll puppet. Shunned by noxious nosy neighbors and prodded by presumptuous physicians, Oyster Boy battles loneliness before finally returning to his oceanic origins.
An all-female quartet (Elly Beaman-Brinklow, Elena Costanzi, Jesse Dupré, and ukulele-strumming Sophie Taylor) serves as a Greek chorus, narrating the fable with doo-wop-flavored harmonies and Americana folk tunes. Staging (collectively directed by the ensemble) is elegantly inventive in its naiveté, with a simple sheet representing rippling water or a restaurant table. The balance of improv-like freshness and scripted polish reminded me of La Putain Avec les Fleurs, an old Fringe favorite that shared a similar vaudevillian sensibility.
Oyster Boy is a gentle, intimate gem awash in playful whimsy, seasoned with a splash of acidic darkness. Its magic occasionally gets a little lost in the large Silver venue (they would be better served in Pink or Green), but it’s well worth straining your ears to hear this finely wrought fable.