When previews for The Shark Is Broken were announced (show opens 2nd August) , The Daily Jaws was always going to be there and we were blown away. In a word, The Shark Is Broken is phenomenal. From the moment the Jaws theme fills the darkness and we see the three familiar silhouette’s pass on front of the stage, the hairs on the back of your neck are paying full attention to The Shark Is Broken.
When the lights rise on stage we are revealed to be onboard the Orca, in between shooting scenes of Jaws with Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss.
The setting and the costuming is spot on, and if at first Duncan Henderson (Scheider) and Liam Murray Scott (Hooper) don’t look the spit of the iconic Jaws actors, they have their mannerisms and speech so down to pat that you’ll be convinced at the end you have just watched Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss on stage.
The huge draw to this was always Ian Shaw (who is also one of the co-writers of the play based on the diaries of his dad, Robert Shaw) and he cleverly isn’t on stage when it opens, creating a real sense of anticipation.
But when he does appear on stage, it is electric, a Jaws-dropping experience - he just draws you in. It’s hard not to be convinced that Shaw isn’t looking or talking directly to you when he delivers some of his dialogue.
Perhaps not hard in a theatre with a capacity of only 100, but either way it feels like you are the fourth person sat at the table on the Orca.
The three actors are amazing for the 75 minute duration of the play - it certainly doesn’t feel that long - and they bounce of each other wonderfully. You get a real sense of the camaraderie and conflict from being stuck on the Orca under the masterful direction of Guy Masterson.
The action may be confined to the iconic Orca table but it’s a stroke of creative genius, showing that it’s not just Steven Spielberg that delivers a satisfying Jaws.
It’s a fantastic spin on the making of Jaws we think we all know from The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb and the documentary, The Shark is Still Working. There’s lots of humour, both based around knowledge of the film and popular culture. It has a very meta feel to it, which gets some great laughs but never feels out of place or forced.
Here’s our original interview with Robert...we mean Ian Shaw: Ian Shaw Interview
It also has lots of emotional heart as well, with one scene in particular effective as - just for a moment - you weren’t sure if it was Robert Shaw talking about his dad or Ian Shaw on stage talking about his dad. Mesmerising stuff, sticking in your mind like the lump in your throat.
It’s a Jaws de force, intimate yet epic in scope at the same time. It also demands to be seen by a much wider audience.
Let’s hope that the shark isn’t so broken that they can’t take it on tour after they have finished at the Edinburgh Fringe.