Shoot The Crow

Previewed 28 September 2005, opened 11 October 2005, closed 10 December 2005 at the Trafalgar Studios in London

James Nesbitt stars in a brand new production of Owen McCafferty's comedy Shoot The Crow.

One extraordinary day for four ordinary men... A Belfast building site. Four tilers on the make, each dreaming of better things. But not all of them can commit the same petty crime. Actutely observed and brilliantly witty, Shoot The Crow is a hilarious and moving homage to the working man.

Owen McCafferty was born in Belfast in 1961. After several jobs including tiling, he became a full-time writer. McCafferty's plays show a truly original grasp of language and the complexities, both comic and tragic, of Belfast life. As a playwright he creates an authentic poetry out of the Belfast dialect and his dramas transcend the cliches of political writing to document the lives of ordinary men and women of his home town.

Starring James Nesbitt, Conleth Hill and Jim Norton along with Packy Lee. (Please note that James Nesbitt will not be appearing on Saturday 5 November and Wednesday 30 November).

Shoot The Crow was first performed at The Druid Lane Theatre in Galway in 1997 and was subsequently revived at the Royal Exchange Studio, Manchester where it played a critically and publicly acclaimed season in 2003. This brand new production is directed by Robert Delamere. PLEASE NOTE: This play contains strong language.

"There is a thin line between well-crafted and merely workmanlike, and Shoot the Crow largely grouts it with style. McCafferty, who once worked as a tiler, is deft enough to swerve the main pitfalls of a play about the life of the working man... Most of McCafferty's writing is on target: comic riffs about Thunderbirds and modern art, punctuated with the lively buckshot of slang and swearing... At 90 minutes, this is as concise and pithy as a scrawl of site graffiti. It doesn't generate any wild epiphanies about the dreams that are slowly crushed out of us, but it is an elegant construction all of its own. Like the men it so lovingly portrays, it works." The Sunday Times

"Work, ceaseless, sapping work, consumes so many of our hours. Yet seldom does it feature in West End plays. Owen McCafferty puts that right with his fresh, rueful comedy... Amid this toil Mr McCafferty finds plenty of laughs. The play has four characters, all tilers. Being men, they barely know one another's intimate troubles yet they slowly discover a reluctant comradeship... One moment the tilers swagger, full of hot talk about how they are going to find a way out of their work prison. The next moment they retreat, deflated." The Daily Mail

"McCafferty combines authenticity of observation with quirky humour, moral toughness and a sympathetic understanding of difficult and, at times, quietly desperate lives... There's a surface matiness here, but also secretiveness, backbiting and a cold dislike that expresses itself in four-letter splurges... Their fear: like all of us, they have their hopes and, like many of us, they feel they are wasting their one and only time. Put like that, the piece doesn't sound too original. But that's far from the impression you get from Robert Delamere's production and his four terrific actors... There's another dramatist McCafferty resembles, and he's a fellow-Irishman: Sean O'Casey. Praise comes no higher than that." The Times

"You might reckon that a play featuring four workmen laying tiles and chatting about this and that might be about as fascinating as watching...well, as watching tillers at work. But you'd be wrong. Owen McCafferty, who was once employed as - you've guessed it - a tiler, has written a fascinating study in human nature that lasts only 90 minutes but has more layers than a wedding cake. James Nesbitt is Socrates, a worrier with a sneaking suspicion that there's more to life than work and money. The journey from cradle to grave should be fulfilling for all, argues the author. Socrates and foreman Petesy (Conleth Hill) plan to steal a spare pallet of tiles to put a few extra quid in their empty pockets. Trouble is, the veteran Ding-Ding (Jim Norton) and young Randolph (Packy Lee), are set on the same pilfering path. The Belfast accents require concentration and the F-word is employed more often even than by Wayne Rooney in his own 90-minute dramas. But, stone the crows, the struggle for their own identities by four losers who've been dealt lousy hands in life is a funny and moving comment on what's too often a one-sided society." The Sun

The playwright Owen McCafferty on his work: "I'm aware that the language in my plays may come across as sounding and feeling very 'real' and 'genuine' but in fact my aim is for it to he slightly heightened so that I am telling a story rather than just showing a slice of life. I wouldn't want Shoot the Crow, for example, to he seen as a docudrama. Instead I've taken events which may really happen within a setting but have altered them slightly. That's what theatre is to me, something imaginative, and whilst pure realism is not a bad thing it suits me better not to do that... My original intent with Shoot the Crow was to give these men a voice so that their stories wouldn't just be passed by. I feel that sometimes people assume that, because certain people speak in a certain way, there's no intelligence about them - but that perception is, of course, wrong. I'm aware that my characters are always trying to push forward, even if their speech is in some way limited, because behind that superficial image there's a real life; they suffer real emotions, they're full of wit and have an intelligence about them. We shouldn't just look at people and say 'I know who they are', because you don't know who they are until you listen to them and when you do listen to them you realise that they are just like you."