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Stuart King

Review: THE SHARK IS BROKEN at the Ambassadors Theatre

The Shark is Broken The Shark is Broken seems an unlikely title for a West End play, but context is everything in Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon's exposé of the notorious 1974 Cape Cod shooting schedule for Spielberg's blockbuster Jaws.

As co-writer, it is Ian Shaw in particular who shines, playing his father — the redoubtable Robert Shaw, whose turn as Quint in the movie added such weight and pathos. The real life actor's legendary drinking is explored extensively in the play especially the alcoholic's habit of hiding bottles within easy reach, which takes on added emphasis aboard a cramped working film set.

As cold, bleak days roll into each other and Bruce the rubber mechanical shark refuses to function, tensions mount, self-doubts set-in and actors’ egos clash as youthful insecurity rubs-up against jaded experience.

Liam Murray Scott manages a serviceable rendering of Richard Dreyfuss at his most twitchy, pre-Close Encounters career phase, whilst Demetri Goritsas delivers a calming and measured Roy Scheider who acts as the referee of the trio during the more intense moments and neutral observer for a lot of the more antagonistic japes.

In the movie, the shark ultimately was acknowledged as the real star. This play — which first garnered plaudits at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe — offers a genuine insight into the off-screen mindset of the actors who played second fiddle to the beast, but more poignantly seems to be a reflection on the liberating but ultimately destructive force of alcohol in the lives of those blessed (or cursed?) with a creative bent.

“Man takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, the drink takes the man”.