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The Albatross 3rd and Main review at Park Theatre, London – ‘teasingly enigmatic’

Charlie Allen, Andrew St Clair-James and Hamish Clark in The Albatross 3rd and Main. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Welcome to Lacy’s, a dusty, unkempt Massachusetts general store with no customers, few prospects, and an awful lot of debt. Proprietor Gene Lacy (Hamish Clark) frets behind the till, stammering and shouting down the phone to stave off his creditors. Slow-minded and slow-moving boxer-turned-shelfstacker Lullaby (Andrew St Clair-James) labours amiably in the corner. And greasy, local ne’er-do-well Spider (Charlie Allen) philosophises cryptically from the shop floor, trying to inveigle Gene and Lullaby in his latest enterprise – a shady deal involving a dead Golden Eagle, a local Native American Reservation, and the Orwellian US Fish and Wildlife Service.

This is the richly authentic world of Simon David Eden’s blackly comic, teasingly enigmatic three-hander, The Albatross 3rd and Main, a heady cocktail of Sam Shepard grittiness, Harold Pinter intrigue, and dark Martin McDonagh absurdity. In two superbly developed acts, Eden – who directs and designs as well – plots an intricate story of sordid petty crime that drips with cinematic cool. It’s difficult to make out anything deeper in this murky Massachusetts backwater, but sometimes it’s enough for a damn good story to be just that – a damn good story.

All three performances are superb, teetering on the edge of excess but never straying too far from a stylish, all-American naturalism. Clark’s Gene is a sharp, anxious ball of sardonic world-weariness, St Clair-James’ Lullaby is the lumbering, genial Lennie to his George, but Allen supplies the most impressive performance. His Spider, straight from the set of Grease, is a study in small-town slime.

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A teasingly enigmatic tale of small-town American crime