Oyster, by returning playwright David MacGregor (Vino Veritas, Gravity), is not about football. That opening scene uses football fetishism just to establish that one of the characters, Gene, is a "typical" guy. Then, on still shakier ground, it establishes that Gene's girlfriend, Marisa, is a "typical" girl--by having her interpose herself twixt man and television to show off her new Dolce & Gabbana jacket during the last, critical play of the Super Bowl. Shortly thereafter, a medical mishap turns Gene into a woman, and the play asks whether the relationship can survive.
If it sounds like a confusing mash-up of science fiction, romantic comedy, and mindless sitcom, it sure is. Through some alchemy (including, when I saw it, a lively and good-natured opening night audience) it rolls along anyway, gathering a critical mass of laughs and attentive sympathy, proving that a professional cast and crew can mold a forgettable script into an amusing if not memorable evening.
Purple Rose scripts are often hit or miss, since one of its missions is to produce original plays by regional playwrights. This one was a miss, but as Purple Rose completes its twentieth season, I'd say this year it batted about .500, way better than any of the Tigers.
[Originally published in August, 2011.]