Martha’s Vineyard, 1974, shooting on twenty-six year old Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster JAWS has stalled. The film’s lead actors – Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss – are stuck in a boat at the mercy of the bad weather and a faulty mechanical co-star.
JAWS finally swam into the West End, to the Ambassadors Theatre, courtesy of Sonia Friedman in the form of the play, THE SHARK IS BROKEN, the hilarious and moving behind-the-scenes drama based on the problems caused by filming on the Atlantic Ocean with the salt water playing havoc with the pneumatic components of the mechanical shark, nicknamed ‘Bruce’ after the director’s lawyer. With the budget spiralling out of control, cast and crew had a lot of time to kill, including the stars, fuelling a combustive dynamic with alcohol and ambition.
After a sell-out, critically acclaimed run at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 an extended version, written by Robert’s son Ian Shaw and comedy writer Joseph Nixon, directed by Guy Masterson was due to open in London last year. Suspended for 16 months due to the pandemic lockdowns the production opened this year on 9 November to rave reviews. I was amongst the matinee audience last Saturday that gave a standing ovation. The season has already been extended due to popular demand…omicron variant willing.
Ian has an uncanny resemblance to his father’s character, especially poignant in the closing scene when he delivers his famous ‘Indianapolis’ speech. Liam Murray Scott is marine biologist Matt Hooper, both reprising their Edinburgh roles. They are joined by Demetri Goritas as Amity police chief Martin Brody, the mediator between Robert and Richard.
All three cast members signed my sketch after the opening night performance on 9 November at the theatre’s stage door.