Oyster Boy Review

York Theatre Royal – 1 April 2017.  Reviewed by Marcus Richardson

Based on The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy, a novel written by Tim Burton, Haste Theatre decided to adapt the wacky story line to the stage. Through the use of devising they came out with an oddly sad but hilarious play

Now excuse me if my review is less than detailed, as there was no programme and I had to spend some time researching. The play was set in 1950s America, where dreams can come true for anyone.  It’s the bittersweet tale of ice cream sellers Jim and Alice who fall in love, on the beach. However, their lives are turned upside down by the arrival of their son Sam, born with an oyster shell shaped head!  The play explores the issues Sam faces growing up, we see before his birth and throughout his life. This was an amazing way to explore issues that are controversial as it takes away race and swaps it with something else.

The all female cast of 6 took an abstract approach to an abstract story.  4 of the women worked creating characters with a mainly comical setting; from two doctors who are on the incompetent side, to a pair of twins who becomes Sam’s friends they see through his condition and represent childhood purity.  The other actors played the parents of Sam, One who went to the USA from Italy to make a living and Sam’s mother a plain American gal.  At points the acting was very funny and made me laugh, but at other points it did feel rather flat, and I couldn’t hear some of them speak on stage especially when there was music playing.

I left the theatre very bewildered as its not something you see every day and it was hard to process. The style was very interesting to watch as it relied a lot on the actors with skills that you don’t always use in normal commercial theatre, I loved the story as it was a great way to explore the issues. If you can I would say go and see the show, as it’s important to expose yourself to the wacky and bizarre, and it was good to watch the set of actresses bring this story to life