Oyster Boy, Assembly Omnitorium George Square, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Haste Theatre
Kasia Zaremba Byrne (movement director), Valeria Compagnoni (Co-Director),
Paul Freeman (sound design), Paul Murry Stowe (lighting design),
Haste Theatre (set design)
Elly Beaman-Brinklow (Dr Plumcock, Chorus, Puppeteer), Valeria Compagnoni (Jim Gelati, Puppeteer), Tamara Saffir (Molly, Chorus, Puppeteer), Jesse Dupré (Polly, Chorus, Puppeteer), Lexie McDougall (Alice), Sophie Taylor (Anthony, Chorus, Puppeteer, Ukulele)
Running time

Outside the Omnitorium, Assembly’s latest venue at the back of George Square theatre a sign states ‘This evening the entertainment will be found amusing, instructive and delightful’. All of these apply to Oyster Boy, brought to this year’s Fringe by Haste Theatre, the all-female London based young company that specialises in
storytelling with music, clown and physicality.

Jim (Valeria Compagnoni), an Italian ice cream seller, meets Alice (Lexie McDougall) in 1953 at Coney Island, USA - all brightly and glamorously evoked by music and dancing of the period by the sandshoe shod and polka dotted chorus and the strumming of a ukulele. The pair fall in love, get married and after a honeymoon involving the gorging of oysters in a French restaurant, conceive a child who is born with the head of an oyster shell.

This study of otherness and how it is dealt with is inspired by the darkly comic poem by Tim Burton The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and holds echoes of The Red Turtle the latest Japanese animation film from Studio Ghibli, also a modern fairy tale involving a special relationship with the sea.

The fast- moving, mildly interactive show is narrated by the chorus between action of dance, puppetry and some good old fashioned theatrical illusions involving sheets. Think low budget/ high skills (not high heels!). Issues such as exclusion; the sad delusion of perfection; phoney sorority and of course love are part of this show where a range of music from doo wop to Piaf; Andrews Sisters style harmony to Tutti Frutti and Je t’aime – moi non plus plays soundtrack. The sorrowful old US song I am weary, let me rest as the gruesome plans towards so called normality are reached is perfectly chosen.

This international troupe is bursting with talent. They show this at every turn, ad libbing when a slippy stage creates a hiccough, but outstanding among them are Elly Beaman-Brinklow and Sophie Taylor.

Oyster Boy is a gorgeous and arresting show that shines with female comic acting, cross dressing and impressive clowning. It is a wonderful melding of colour, laughter, dance and music but with a serious message woven through the entertainment. Who ever said women weren’t funny? Haste ye back!

5th – 28th August (not 17 and 18) at 12.40pm