Oyster Boy

Inspired by Tim Burton’s poem, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, Haste Theatre transport us to Coney Island where Mr Gelati (Valeria Compagnoni) and the future Mrs Gelati (Lexie McDougall) are in a whirlwind romance that takes a macabre turn.

It’s clear that the group are enjoying themselves on stage throughout the entire piece

Guiding us through the story are four narrators (Elly-Beaman Brinklow, Jesse Dupré, Tamara Saffir, Sophie Taylor) whose musical interludes are a delight throughout, harking back to the original Tim Burton poem. The cast lean on different skills, often bringing in clowning, physical theatre, dance and puppetry to create a well-rounded and thoroughly enjoyable hour-long show. They all play a range of characters that have been cleverly thought through and well crafted.

I enjoyed the smart use of the simple set - a large blue sheet to represent the sea that came alive, especially when flipped to place the actors underwater. The use of the papier maché oyster - first as food, then as the head of Oyster Boy (Sam) was both clever and macabre.

As Sam aged, the group showed off their puppetry skills, bringing to life both the boy, made of rags, and an oyster head with deep dark eyes. There was a particularly joyous scene when the whole cast joined together to make Sam surf almost above the audience. It was interesting to see how different characters reacted to the Oyster Boy, pushing forward questions about how we treat people othered by society and how this can affect a young person growing up and finding their feet.

It’s clear that the group are enjoying themselves on stage throughout the entire piece. They have the right mix, creating a fun show suitable for all ages. Oyster Boy brings up an interesting discussion around otherness, and makes us question the way society treats those that don’t fit in. 

Reviews by Rosie Blackwell-Sutton

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Performances

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The Blurb

Follow the tale of Italian ice-cream sellers Jim and Alice, who fall in love strolling along the beach in a 1950s whirlwind romance. However, all is not as sweet as it seems when their lives are turned upside down by the birth of Sam, a boy with an oyster-shell-shaped head! Based on the short poem by Tim Burton, this bittersweet tale reminds us of the delicacy of life and introduces us to a range of larger-than-life characters who are sure to entertain and delight. ‘Oyster Boy’ is a multi-award-winning, international production mixing physical storytelling, clown, live singing, dance and puppetry.

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