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Shoot the Crow

Owen McCafferty
Trafalgar Studios
(2005)

The cast of Shoot the Crow

Owen McCafferty and his director Robert Delamere have put together a fine Irish cast but, unfortunately, give them very little to do.

Shoot the Crow is a 90 minute comedy based around a single situation. Four tilers have been employed to fit out a communal shower room and annex. While it is not quite like watching paint dry, the play consists of their efforts to make a dishonest buck, while laying tiles - rather badly.

The comedy rests on the efforts of two different pairings to steal some tiles that seemed to be surplus to requirements but in reality hardly could be. The idea of competing thieves must go back to the Ealing Comedies and, more likely than not, silent movies or classical theatre. In this case, the harder each pair tries to keep the secret from the other, the more we are supposed to laugh.

The first pair that we meet are the tyro tiler and would be biker, Packy Lee's Randolph, who is a few cards short of a full pack. He is contrasted with sly veteran Ding-Ding, given life and authenticity by Jim Norton. The action takes place on the day on which Ding-Ding is to retire. His modest ambition is to become a window-cleaner, as he believes that, without some activity, you will not live long.

As that duo plots to make away with the tiles at lunchtime, an identical discussion is happening in the other room featuring the busy Conleth Hill, fresh from The Producers as Petesy, an aggressive, pony-tailed family man who wants to send his daughter on a school trip. He has his work cut out trying to get a word in edgeways with Socrates, played by award-winning Cold Feet star, James Nesbitt.

Socrates is having a crisis, having followed his father's example and walked out on his family. He is the key character who, when the chips are down, makes an honourable decision that will prove to have fatal consequences for one of his colleagues.

The pace is maintained throughout thanks to Simon Higlett's realistic set and a constantly turning revolve that takes us from room to room, accompanied by varied rock music, often with an Irish theme.

Shoot the Crow has all the makings of a half-hour sitcom drawn out to three times that length. There are some good one-liners and even one-joke that takes on the dimensions of a shaggy dog story before disappointing with its punch line. The problem really is that very little happens and, worse, it is hard to care about any of these people - and, without a degree of audience empathy, the play has little point.

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Shoot the Crow

Reviewer: Philip Fisher