The Albatross 3rd and MainCultureTheatre
After a three-week stint in Brighton, playwright and director Simon David Eden brings his tale of a rag-tag trio who come into possession of some potentially lucrative roadkill to London’s Park Theatre.
The story unfolds as a comedy of errors as the men try to patch together a plan to persuade the local Native American reservation to buy the gently rotting “Eric” the eagle without getting caught by the Feds; however, as the play goes on it becomes apparent that what the group have has become an albatross around their necks.
Before the performance starts the set design does a great job of transporting the audience from Finsbury Park to Anytown, USA: mason jars full of gherkins and pickled beets line the walls, upturned crates are used as makeshift tables and a chalkboard that reads “The soup of the day is Budweiser” hangs above the till. Theatregoers are also greeted with original music by Dirty Diary, perfectly delivering “garage blues with a spaghetti western twang”.
The often funny dialogue is hampered by the fact that the performers’ non-native American accents cannot quite keep up with the pace, somewhat dampening the illusion. This is a shame, because the acting itself is very good: Hamish Clark does an excellent job as the anger-prone Gene who has been “chewed up and spat out” by his ex, and Charlie Allen’s Spider blends comic swagger with a darkly arrogant edge very well. Andrew St Clair-James’s Lullaby is a gentle giant who serves to remind the audience of the play’s namesake by frantically reciting The Rime of the Ancient Mariner when frightened or nervous.
What viewers don’t get is context, and this is not so much because The Albatross 3rd & Main all takes place in one room, but because the characters lack depth. Who are they, and what’s actually supposed to be likeable about them, if anything? It’s not even particularly clear in what kind of shop the scene is set (if, indeed, it is a shop). This particular fact could be saved if the allegory was strong enough, but whatever social commentary there is gets lost under layers of dialogue and the nod to Coleridge’s epic poem is only half-hearted, not really extending much past a dead bird and some bad luck.
Tarn Rodgers Johns
Photos: Sacha Queiroz
The Albatross 3rd and Main is at Park Theatre from 10th January until 4th February 2017, for further information or to book visit here.