Owen McCafferty’s Shoot the Crow is a play about four Belfast tilers who come up with a scam to make some fast money. It was premiered by Druid Theatre Company at the Druid Lane Theatre, Galway, Ireland, on 26 February 1997.
The play takes place over the course of a single working Friday on a building site in Belfast. Four tilers are in the process of tiling a public toilet and shower area. Ding-Ding, aged 65, is the oldest, with one eye on retirement but little to show for it. Randolph is only 19 and still has hopes that this menial job might lead to a career. Petesy, 36, is the group’s alpha male. Socrates, 39, is true to his name, earnest and contemplative. Independently, Ding-Ding and Petesy hit on the idea of stealing a pallet-load of tiles to make a quick buck, but nothing goes according to plan. Randolph finds himself browbeaten into agreeing to help both, each of them entirely ignorant that the other is planning an identical scam.
Making use of distinctive Belfast speech rhythms, McCafferty explores the limitations of the manual labourer’s life, stuck on a minimum wage with no hope of moving any higher up the scale. The play also dissects the complexities of working-class male relationships in the workplace.
The Druid premiere was directed by David Parnell and designed by Paul McCavley, with David Ganley as Socrates, Anthony Brophy as Petesy, Patrick Waldron as Ding-Ding and Fergal McElherran as Randolph.
The play received its British premiere on 12 February 2003 at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, in a production directed by Jacob Murray and designed by Laurie Dennett, with Patrick O’Kane as Socrates, Conleth Hill as Petesy, Walter McMonagle as Ding-Ding and Paul Dinnen as Randolph.
It was revived at the Trafalgar Studios in the West End on 11 October 2005 (previews from 28 September) in a Sonia Friedman production directed by Robert Delamere and designed by Simon Higlett, with Jim Norton as Ding-Ding, James Nesbitt as Socrates, Packy Lee as Randolph and Conleth Hill as Petesy.