Robert Tanitch reviews The Shark is Broken at Ambassadors Theatre, London

Robert Tanitch reviews The Shark is Broken at Ambassadors Theatre, London

Ian Shaw’s 90-minute play, co-written with Joseph Nixon, recreates one of Hollywood’s greatest feuds. It occurred during the making of Jaws, the scariest ocean movie ever made.

The 1975 mega hit blockbuster, directed by the then 27-year-old Steven Spielberg, starred Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider. John Williams wrote the Oscar-winning score. Spielberg’s Jaws is to sharks what Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick is to whales.

The Shark is Broken

The big mistake was to film in the Atlantic Ocean rather than in a Hollywood studio tank. The actors had a bad time. Bruce (the nickname for the rubber animatronic shark) kept malfunctioning, causing endless delays. The production went way over budget. Relations were strained and tempers were frayed.

Ian Shaw is Robert Shaw’s son and he has based his script on his dad’s diary. He recreates the frustration on board the boat. Shaw, acerbic, alcoholic, troublemaker, constantly humiliates Dreyfuss. Some people thought their antagonism off-screen helped them to act better on-screen.

The actors are engaging. Ian Shaw, looking like his dad, plays his dad. Liam Murray Scott plays Dreyfuss and Demetri Goritsas plays Scheider.

The Shark is Broken is an affectionate memoir rather than a play. My guess is it will whet the appetite of many people to see Jaws again.

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