Oyster Boy (photo courtesy Haste Theatre)
Haste Theatre's Oyster Boy, inspired by the Tim Burton stories, tells the mirthfully melancholy tale of Jim (Valena Compagnoni), a guileless gelato vendor who meets cute with a 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, Elana Costanzi, Jesse Dupré, and ukelele-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 naïveté, 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 low-key, 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+ -