Oyster Boy

Oyster Boy is a comic telling of the fictional relationship between two young lovers on Coney Island and their subsequent journey into marriage. As newlyweds on a trip to Paris they are treated to fresh oysters, and soon the aphrodisiac starts to kick in… Fast forward nine months to the birth of their first child - Sam - and we learn that perhaps the seafood has had more of a lasting effect than just a salty aftertaste. As Sam (the title role) struggles to find approval in a society with an affliction to difference, his parents are forced to make a difficult choice – will family loyalty or the desire to be accepted come first?

Oyster Boy is a delicacy in its own right… I would have just preferred it without the extra seasoning.

The production had several convincing elements, but in particular I had a great admiration for the creativity in the way they led us through the tale. Utilising several different storytelling techniques in order to convey the plot; puppetry, song, physical theatre, poetry and music all made an appearance on this extensive list, although I can’t help but feel that sometimes the large array of skills made the piece slightly fragmented, being stilted in some parts by the time it takes an audience to get on the wavelength of whichever visual form is in front of them. Whilst this is no reflection on the quality of individual elements, the narrative of the play as a whole must always be most important, with theatrical devices serving to complement this rather than be showcased for the sake of variety.

The company outdid themselves in their depiction of Sam – a puppet made of papier mache and knotted material. Using a light source and material to create the silhouette of him swimming was absolutely stunning, and the whole ensemble worked like clockwork to create the illusion. I found myself forming an emotional attachment to the character, which (with him being an inanimate mollusc) is a great credit to the cast and their impressive stagecraft.

Where this became disjointed was through the everyday, non-stylised speech patterns opted for in the dialogue. When equally abstract and larger-than-life characters (such as the surgeons involved with Sam’s condition) speak like regular people, the fantasy becomes patchy and I found myself slipping back into the real world, therefore rendering the more imaginative portions of the production superfluous and somewhat unbelievable. Nonetheless an enjoyable feat of showmanship; Oyster Boy is a delicacy in its own right… I would have just preferred it without the extra seasoning.

Reviews by Matthew Sedman

Zoo Southside

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

It's the 1950s and chorus girls are doowapping, everyone is jiving and Italian ice cream seller Jim and young Alice fall in love whilst strolling along the beach in a whirlwind romance. Their lives are soon turned upside down by the arrival of their first son, born with an oyster shaped head! This award-winning show mixes puppetry, harmony singing, clown, physical storytelling and dance, and is 'delightful... for all ages' (Bakchormeeboy.com). Inspired by a Tim Burton short story and devised and written by the company.