The production issues of Jaws have long been legend in the movie industry, especially since it overcame those issues to become a massive hit, one of the most iconic movies of all time.
It's not necessarily the type of movie you'd expect to see on a West End stage, but Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon found a way to bring the spirit of Jaws to the theatre. Set during production in 1974 on Martha's Vineyard, The Shark is Broken focuses on the three lead stars as they while away the hours waiting for the mechanical shark "Bruce" to be fixed.
Taking place totally on a replica of the Orca, the 90-minute play sees Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider play card games, reminisce about their lives, drink and eventually clash with each other. But they also get some filming done on the memorable USS Indianapolis scene, which doesn't quite start off as good as it becomes...
For Jaws fans, there's probably not much insight here that they wouldn't already know about the movie's troubled production. Yet the dramatisation of the cast's dynamic during filming brings an often-told story to life in a compelling way, whether or not you know the stories already.
Arguably the biggest draw of The Shark is Broken is the fact that co-writer Ian Shaw is playing his father Robert. He's not only a mirror image of him, but has also perfected his mannerisms so that it never comes across as a gimmick. It's a wonderful performance and one that doesn't shy away from Robert Shaw's struggles with alcoholism.
His father died when Ian was eight years old, only a few years after the release of Jaws, and Ian has previously admitted that the subject originally felt too personal to go near. However, it's this rawer aspect of the play that elevates it beyond an entertaining trip down cinematic memory lane.
Ian Shaw's co-stars Liam Murray Scott and Demetri Goritsas are equally as brilliant as Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider. They may not have the familial connection to the real-life actors, but they're as believable as Shaw and the trio have a chemistry that is enjoyable to watch.
There are times when the script gets a bit too on-the-nose when it comes to pop culture gags about Jaws' legacy. This is very much a dramatisation, so you have to take the dialogue with a pinch of salt. It feels authentic enough to what might have been said that it's a minor thing.
With only a month left of its current London run, The Shark is Broken is definitely worth catching if you're comfortable attending the theatre right now.
How to buy The Shark is Broken tickets
The Shark is Broken has extended its run at London's Ambassadors Theatre, but the show's final performance will be on Sunday, February 13.
Prices start from £20 and there are performances every Tuesday to Friday evening at 7.30pm, as well as matinee performances at 2.30pm on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
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