Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Oyster Boy review at Assembly George Square, Edinburgh – ‘good-natured physical theatre’

Haste Theatre's Oyster Boy makes a welcome return to Edinburgh Haste Theatre's Oyster Boy makes a welcome return to Edinburgh

Oyster Boy was the debut show for talented all-female Haste Theatre, all the way back in 2013, and this revival is a perfect introduction to their brand of good-natured physical theatre.

Loosely based on the gleefully gruesome Tim Burton poem ‘The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy’, Haste have swapped out Burton’s neo-gothic tones for a 1950s American vibe, relocating the tale to a sun-splashed Coney Island and dropping doo-wops left right and centre.

Oyster Boy is at its best in the moments of shadow play where the titular shell-head swims in the ocean, or his appearances as a charming bunraku puppet. There are also plenty of soothing a cappella songs and some nice asides to the audience, but there’s nothing that raises much more than a titter, and Burton’s snippy narrative feels overstretched even at a little less than an hour.

It’s a great, unchallenging show for kids, even if it doesn’t take full advantage of its grotesque source material. It’s performed with visible good humour, however, by a uniformly excellent international cast, and as a first show, it’s clear where their later more accomplished work has sprung from.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Lacking in bite but with charm to spare, Haste Theatre’s acclaimed debut show makes a welcome appearance at the fringe