REVIEW: The Albatross 3rd and Main (Park Theatre) ★★★★

After a successful run at the Emporium Theatre in Brighton, Simon David Eden brings his dark comedy to the Park Theatre. Inspired by Sam Shepard’s work, Eden’s play is quintessentially American, taking place in a run-down convenience store in small-town Massachusetts that has not seen any customers in a long time. Debt-ridden store owner Gene Lacy (Hamish Clark)is getting frequent calls from his creditors who would like him to pay back his gambling debts as well as the bills that his ex-wife has run up. Gene stubbornly replies that he is in a “debt-free zone” but he knows that there is more trouble to come and has already written over the shop to his help, former boxer Louis “Lullaby” Lee (Andrew St Clair-James) who is still stacking shelves despite his grand new position. When petty criminal Spider (Charlie Allen) walks in with a shady deal that could take care of Gene’s troubles, he gets Gene’s full attention.

Spider has a Golden Eagle to sell. He claims that the bird flew into his windshield and broke his neck. Gene is supposed to call his contact in the Mohawk reservation to sell off the precious prize for a lot of greenbacks. But there is one catch. As Lullaby points out, even having a Golden Eagle in your possession qualifies as a felony and the ever watchful US Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Service might already be on Spider’s trail. Soon the Golden Eagle turns into the proverbial albatross hanging around their necks and the noose tightens and the partners in crime begin to turn on each other.

Designed, written and directed by Simon David Eden, this darkly comic and clever three-hander is fast-paced and entertaining with echoes of Harold Pinter, David Mamet, and Sam Shepard. The impressive stage design boasts with Americana, funniest of all a menu advertising the soup of the day, a Cigar Store Indian, and a dial phone.

The production benefits from an outstanding cast, most of all Charlie Allen as Spider as he is swaggering across the stage, hiding an unpredictable and violent nature behind his bravado. Hamish Clark inhabits his role as the irritable world-weary Gene and St Clair-James’ Lullaby might be a slow thinker but he turns out to be the smartest of them all.

Reviewed by Carolin Kopplin

The Albatross 3rd and Main is playing at the Park Theatre until 4th February 2017