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Orlando Fringe Review: Oyster Boy

May 14, 2014
Oyster Boy Orlando Fringe 2014 (photo courtesy Haste Theatre)

Oyster Boy (photo courtesy Haste Theatre)

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.


Haste Theatre – London, United Kingdom
Length: 60
Venue: Silver
Price: $10 (+svc. Charge)
Disc.: FA | FV | STU | SR
Rating: 7+ -

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