Watermark’s 2014 Orlando Fringe Reviews: Oyster Boy

By : Veronica Brezina
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Being a fan of dark Tim Burton stories, I never expected his story The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy to ever become a musical show. But to my greatest surprise and delight, the storytelling was done flawlessly and with swift, efficient puppeteer movement.

Oyster Boy, inspired by Tim Burton’s The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, is a dark comedy with the moral life lesson of how being different (in this case, deformed with having an oyster shell-shaped head) in a world where beauty is key, comes with great consequences.

The show is performed by Haste Theatre, which is an international all-female (six women) ensemble based in London. The group is diverse with members from England, Scotland, Germany and Italy. You can see each members nationalities be brought out during dancing, singing and linguistics. The group takes the roots of the European physical theatre tradition, which focuses on imaginary storytelling through imagery and illusion.

The opening begins with four women choral singing and one playing a ukulele. The beautiful performers are Sophie Taylor, Jesse Dupré, Elena Costanzi and Elly Beaman-Brinklow.

The main character Jim, who is the husband played by Valeria Compagnoni, and his wife Alice, played by Anna Plasberg-Hill, fall in love quite suddenly. Together, they wish for a son. As the nurses are checking the baby slowing coming out of his mother’s womb, everything seems perfectly normally, that is till they see the ghastly oyster shell-shaped head. Jim and Alice name the surreal-looking baby Sam. Despite being disappointed to have such a child, they try not to display that they’re ashamed. Jim, being an ice cream man, sells his gelatos on the beach and takes Sam along with him.

Naturally, being born part oyster, Sam is attracted to the sea. Jim knows his family is unhappy and decides to take Sam to the doctor who delivered Sam in hopes to find a cure. The doctor states any distraught parent’s worst fear – there is no cure. Sam’s parents face the fact that they must return him to the sea where he belongs and so they do; however, they keep the dream of having a normal human baby, although this time, they wish for a girl. This leaves the audience thinking about another life lesson — be careful what you wish for.

The show is visually striking and the choral singing is very much in sync. This is a must-see Fringe show for any Tim Burton fan. You can find this show being performed in the Silver Venue.

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