Theatre Review: Fraternity, Feathers and Federal Law

Written by: Victoria Highfield

The Albatross 3rd and Main fails to get off the ground at Park Theatre.

Shiny Pin Productions in association with Park Theatre present The Albatross 3rd and Main, ‘a gritty black comedy’ that shows us how the American dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Three down and out guys, a shit load of debt and a dead golden eagle see tensions rise in an all American general store. But does this play have what it takes to sustain lift off? Or does it come crashing down, feathers fleeting, a bloody mess upon the audience’s feet?

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Firstly it is worth mentioning that whilst Eden’s beautifully intricate set is impressive, it is misleading in many ways.  It is sadly the biggest nod towards the indigenous Americans that we are to see in this performance and at the same time provides no real explanation as to what the store offers, or why it is even there in the first place.

We first meet Gene (Hamish Clark) – a former shop owner with gambling debts – on an awkward call centre call that is low on laughs. It’s an early sign of the lack of comedy that is to follow alongside an overblown plot and often tedious dialogue. There’s Lullaby (Andrew St Clair James) a retired boxer who’s had one too many hits to the head and Spider (Charlie Allen) a low life criminal that would fit right at home with Grease’s T-birds. 

Unfortunately we hear little more about our characters lives than in the few sentences I have given.  Therefore no real character attachment (good or bad) takes place, despite the acting being credible and this is largely due to the lack of development from Eden’s script.

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The first half fails in gaining momentum or keeping the audience entertained and wanting more. Instead it drags on rather uncomfortably. All we take away is that Spider has produced a golden eagle, dead, illegal to own and potentially extremely valuable. 

Things are not helped by Clark’s shaky American accent that is rather disappointingly laced with Scottish undercurrents, sadly preventing Gene from becoming an authentic or believable character. Regardless of Lullaby’s slightly irritating delivery his lines are the most beautiful, even though he is actually marketed as the most unintelligent out of the three. Often quoting Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Lullaby’s rhetoric is symbolic of the unnecessary eagle killing by Spider.  ‘He loved the bird that loved the man / Who shot him with his bow.’ In Coleridge’s poem it is the innocent albatross who loved the mariner that eventually shot him. Eric is a metamorphic bird who eventually punishes the humans that steal him.

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He acts as painful reminder of the often selfish and barbaric actions that we can inflict upon animals. It’s Spider’s convincing performance of the devil within during the second half that gives the play the most integrity.  However regrettably this wasn’t enough to save it. Nothing was clear in this over explained performance of repeating one liners which lacked any real form of comedy. Yes, remember, it’s supposed to be a comedy (I forgot too)! For me that was the biggest joke of the evening. Eden’s puffed up script takes away from the central characters and doesn’t provide a clear or enjoyable picture of contemporary America.

A note for readers:  

[Please note this is a play written by a bloke starring three blokes and without sounding sexist in any way it may be more appealing to a male audience – my boyfriend certainly thought so!]

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We are huge fans of our local cultural hub, Park Theatre and look forward to their upcoming shows, particularly new comedy, Killing Time starring Brigit Forsyth and Zoe Mills. Look out for our review soon.

Find more theatre reviews and interviews with directors and actors here.

The Albatross 3rd and Main is showing at Park Theatre in Finsbury Park until 4th February 2017. Click here to book tickets.

Production photos by Sacha Queiroz.

Park Theatre photos by Mike Barry.

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