The Albatross 3rd & Main

Simon David Eden
Shiny Pin Productions in association with Park Theatre
Park Theatre (90)

Charlie Allen, Andrew St Clair-James and Hamish Clark. Credit: Sacha Queiroz
Andrew St Clair-James, Hamish Clark and Charlie Allen, Credit: Sacha Queiroz
Hamish Clark Credit: Sacha Queiroz

If you go for those fast-talking American shows with the quirky clashing characters then you are probably going to like the play The Albatross 3rd & Main.

Simon David Eden clearly enjoys American drama and has written something that wears its influences lightly as it gives us lots to listen to and laugh at.

The story plays out like some American Gothic injected with a dose of very literate city humour (he even treats you to a fair portion of a poem from Coleridge) and dialogue on speed.

It is set in some out of the way Massachusetts store which on the day of the play takes a little over twenty dollars in custom. What’s more, the former owner now assistant of the store Gene (Hamish Clark) is in severe debt. That’s why when Spider (Charlie Allen) brings him a box containing a dead rare golden eagle whose feathers might be sold to Native Americans for a lot of money, Gene is willing to listen.

Unfortunately for them the US "Eagle Feather Law" prohibits such a sale and, as the new owner of the store Lullaby (Andrew St Clair-James) suggests, this particular bird is going to turn out to be more of an albatross around their necks.

The performers barely pause for breath as they race through the ninety-minute playing time which feels a lot shorter. Hamish Clark is particularly effective as the pragmatic slightly world weary Gene.

Some aspects of the show are not entirely satisfying. For instance, it is difficult to follow the opening conversation Gene has on a telephone, and Lullaby’s early appearance can seem a little awkward.

It also doesn’t really have anything to say about the world, though, given that the plot has two white men haggling about the way they might exploit Native Americans, while a black man buys the store and does the work, this might be imagined as some sort of metaphor. But I think not.

However these things hardly matter since the play’s structure is tight, the story grabs your attention and the dialogue is fun. It’s an entertaining way of spending ninety-odd minutes.

But come on Mr Eden. The reason you liked those American dramas wasn’t just the fast gritty dialogue and quirky characters; it was also the way they felt the beating pulse of America and gave us such a sharp critical view of the American catastrophe.

How about some of that Mr Eden?

How about some of that.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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