Chichester playwright Simon David Eden is also director and designer for his new comedy The Albatross 3rd & Main which receives its premiere at Brighton’s Emporium from February 2-20.
Simon’s wife Helena is producing the piece which was inspired by Simon’s travels in the USA. Geoff Aymer, Charlie Allen and Nicholas Boulton are the actors in a gritty contemporary psychosocial black comedy which unfolds over a single day in a sleepy, blue-collar backwater of Massachusetts, New England.
Simon offers it as a punchy satire that takes a big swing at cultural imperialism as it explores the dark flipside of federal law and wildlife conservation. The production comes from Simon’s and Helena’s Shiny Pin Productions, and the hope is it will prove the start of an important new collaboration between the couple and the venue: “We lived in the States for a while,” Simon explains, “and I have travelled extensively on the East Coast. I was inspired by discovering information about federal law relating to the conservation of golden eagles. I delved into the subject of the US Fish and Wildlife Association and how they tried to protect an endangered species, but in so doing they actually marginalised the Native American Indians that need eagle feathers and beaks and talons for their ceremonies and rites of passage.”
Eagles have long since ceased to be regarded as endangered animals, but to be in possession of their feathers – even when they come from roadkill – is still an offence and carries a hefty prison term.
Precisely the dilemma Simon’s play explores... Three guys. A mountain of debt. And a box of priceless roadkill.
“Gene Lacy, a former lobster boat fisherman and proprietor of Lacy’s General Store, is down on his luck big time: he’s ducking creditors, huge gambling debts and an ex-wife with very expensive tastes. So when Spider walks into his store with a golden lottery ticket in the shape of a rare and valuable dead bird, Gene has a choice to make. He has the connections to help Spider turn his windfall into greenbacks, but there’s one tiny problem, as Gene’s right-hand man – an ex-boxer named Lullaby – is well aware: it’s a felony offence to even be in possession of the bird.
“As the metaphorical noose tightens, and the threat of a lengthy stretch behind bars hangs over them, so the friendships unravel with a potentially-deadly and deadly funny (it’s a black comedy after all!) outcome: if there’s honour among thieves, somebody forgot to tell these guys.” As Helena says: “The idea of protecting the eagles is obviously absolutely right, but the laws have created a black market.”
“It’s this strange dichotomy which is behind the play,” Simon says. “It’s a comedy, but like the very best comedy, it has got a serious subtext to it. My interest was piqued by the that piece of information.”
Simon is delighted with his cast and already looking to the future: “Shiny Pin productions was set up to give a voice not just to my own plays, but also new writing generally. We want to build a platform for that at the Emporium. There are two or three of my plays across the next few years that might be staged there...”
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