Female Arts

 Female Arts, Wendy Thompson, 12th August 2013


5 stars

Oyster Boy – Theatre Review

‘Oyster Boy’ by Haste theatre is a 60 minute play inspired by Tim Burton’s short story ‘The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy’ (yes that Tim Burton – husband of Helena, film director, all round eccentric genius). I’ve read the illustrated book which is beautiful, surreal and touching. So when I saw that Haste theatre were doing a production of ‘Oyster Boy’ at the Camden fringe I made a special effort to watch it and I’m so glad I did.

Haste theatre are a six woman international ensemble, specialising in physical performances with music, physical storytelling, puppetry and clowning. It is evident they had put a lot of thought into the characters and backstory in ‘Oyster Boy’, and have masterfully created their own take on this tale and vividly brought it to life.

Using blue and white sheets, some picnic baskets and flippers, the sights and sounds of the seaside come to life. Mr Gelati (Valeria Compagnoni) is great as the leading man who meets, woos and weds the future Mrs Gelati (Anna Plasberg-Hill ) and what they eat for dinner has an effect no one could have dreamt about.

Special mention has to be made of the puppet which was made by Haste theatre. With just a pair of dark emotive eyes, the large oyster head transforms from baby to body in seconds to become a sensitive soul seeking his place in the world.

Sophie Taylor, Elena Costanzi, Jesse Dupré and Elly Beaman-Brinklow are the narrators in navy and white stripe beach outfits, who become doctors, twins, waiters and a disapproving parent with just the addition of a white coat, yellow pinny, moustache or headscarf. These characters react in different ways to Oyster boy and his ‘otherness’.

‘Oyster Boy’ has strong potential for the future with many different groups who could benefit from the story and a post show discussion.

The only part of this play that could perhaps be tightened is a slightly lengthy interaction between the Doctor and his assistant whose name is forgotten (not by me – by the Doctor!).

‘Oyster Boy’ by Haste theatre is clever, moving, visually striking and beautiful, and would do Tim proud.

© Wendy Thomson 2013
Reviewed 10.08.13 at the Etcetera theatre as part of the Camden Fringe.