Review: The Shark is Broken (Ambassador's Theatre)

Updated on 25 October 2021

Them be choppy waters….

With the theme music to the infamous Jaws on repeat, I could feel the trepidation building up as I headed to the Ambassadors Theatre to go aboard The Orca fishing boat, ready to set sail for the filming of Jaws. The facia needs more than a nod to it also – the shark and the teeth popping up from the roof of the theatre is simple but effective. The Ambassadors is an intimate enough space to house this production with ease and grace. However, in anticipating the popularity of the Shark, "you’re gonna need a bigger boat.’"

The Shark is Broken, literally, and until a replacement can be found, we spend 90 minutes with the film's three co-stars: Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider. Written by Ian Shaw (son of Robert), he narrates what happens that day on filming. It is clear that this piece has been produced with thoughtfulness and care. Shaw has managed to replicate his father with diligence, highlighting his arrogance and alcohol issues.  

The men argue constantly, play games to pass the time, gossip about Stephen (Spielberg) and at times it seems like a contest in who’s the best at acting and at directing/ who’s the best connected. It echoes lockdown life albeit stuck on a boat, with the solace of alcohol to turn to, highlighting issues of drug dependency and allowing us, the audience, a look at life behind the glitz and glamour.

Whilst all three actors should be applauded for their roles, it is Shaw who steals the show. He seamlessly moves between laughter and vulnerability breaking the fourth wall with comfort, particularly when touching upon the topic of suicide. Towards the end, Shaw says the lines, as his father did in the final scenes, which was a very emotional and moving moment. The stillness in the water reflects the stillness in the theatre, highlighting the depth of the writing.

The Shark is Broken is a standalone piece; you don’t need to have any prior knowledge of Jaws to be able to enjoy it. I hope the show gets extended as it is currently a limited run. 

P.S. Fun fact: there were in fact three sharks all named Bruce in Jaws.  Why the name Bruce….? Bruce was Spielberg’s lawyer!

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Kay Johal

By Kay Johal

Kay particularly enjoys musicals and has a passion for writing.