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The Shark Is Broken

by on 18 October 2021

More Than You Can Chew

The Shark is Broken

by Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon

Sonia Friedman Productions at the Ambassadors Theatre, London until 15th January 2022

Review by Heather Moulson

Being desperate to see The Shark is Broken for nearly two years, due to a sell-out in Edinburgh, followed by the lockdown, I couldn’t get to the Ambassadors Theatre quick enough.

Greeted by a clever set, extraordinary lighting and amazing tableaux, I knew it was worth the wait.  What followed was ninety minutes of impressive pacing, revelations, and acrimonious yet warm exchanges.  The script, acutely written by Ian Shaw, has text taken from his father Robert Shaw’s diaries about the making of the iconic film, Jaws.   With this consistent and thoughtfully studied script, it captured a significant piece of film history.

The play features three stage actors playing three film actors, the principal characters in Jaws during the fraught making of the film.   The three film icons worked on location against constant restless water and a cold and rundown boat.  Their predicament, and the constantly malfunctioning “shark”, was depicted on a clever stage set that was all very effective and worked in their favour.   Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and the only surviving actor, Richard Dreyfus were brought to life before us.  The very young Steven Spielberg was referred to, and not always in a flattering way.

Intelligently played by Ian Shaw, I enjoyed Robert Shaw’s vibrancy and solid-gold wit.  It very clearly and impartially emphasised one man’s dependency on alcohol, and the road it took.  Richard Dreyfus was put over as spoilt and a Jewish-American prince, verging on the shallow, and Roy Scheider came off even worse as being dogmatic and dull.  These roles were slickly played by Liam Murray Scott and Demetri Goritsas.  

However, this did not make the film actors lose their charm and star factor, and certainly did not overshadow insights into the players, who kept it tight and absorbing.  Guy Masterson’s direction was full of awareness, razor sharp and insightful.

I also liked the other point of view that was put over; that of what the waterlogged technical crew were actually going through with filming an inconsistent mechanical shark called Bruce.  I was glad this film was made before CGI, as it showed that good writing, directing and design can make up for every technical glitch.

The Shark is Broken is a production really worth seeing, now right in the heart of London.

Heather Moulson, October 2021

Photography courtesy of AKA UK

One Comment
  1. celiabard permalink

    The interesting backstory provided in this review encourages me to want to see the production.

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