Review of 'The Shark is Broken'


What a great title: “The Shark is Broken” tells the story of the three principal actors from 1975 film Review of 'Jaws', Roy Schneider (Demetri Goritsas), Richard Dreyfuss (Liam Murray Scott), and Robert Shaw (played by his son Ian Shaw) as they wait on board the fishing boat, the “Orca”, waiting for rare moments when the mechanical shark used in the film (“Bruce”) starts to work. There is a lot of waiting and as they do they reflect on their lives as actors and argue a lot with one another. The primary character here is undoubtedly the alcoholic Shaw as his gruff exterior very much echoes the fisherman Quint who he portrays in the film though through the eyes of a classically trained English actor having little patience with the youthful exuberance of Dreyfuss but tolerating the older Schneider who is more patient with him. So the question is: Will the shark ever show up?

An entertaining character study of three very different men thrown together in a bizarre and very claustrophobic setting. The set consists of a cutaway view into the fishing boat with a rear projection of the open ocean where the film was filmed. It looks great and is quite convincing even to the point where a storm causing the projected water to move up and down makes you slightly uncomfortable. By all accounts “Jaws” was a very difficult shoot with the play really picking up on the humour of the situation though this is not, by any means, a comedy. This is all about the men as they talk about themselves and how they interact with one another but it is also not afraid to show the occasional scenes of boredom as the three simply lay about on the boat waiting for the shark to be fixed.

A reasonable question would be to ask whether you need to have seen “Jaws” to appreciate the play. Having seen the film a few times I might not be the best person to answer this but I would suggest you can certainly get the just of what is going on quite quickly and appreciate the character study as it unfolds. Having said that, it certainly does add a lot to be familiar not only with the film but, even better, the actors and, of course, the director Steven Spielberg. With this understanding you can follow a lot more of what is being said and the various references (there are also references to other films of the era and earlier as well).

It has to be said it is quite a thing to have the son of Robert Shaw not only playing his father (who died only a few years after the film) but also heavily involved in the production of the play. Ian is quite a spitting image of his father and has managed to capture his mannerisms very convincingly. It is a driven performance that utterly convinces. Having said that, the other two do a great job at capturing their respective characters as well with Scott's Dreyfus a suitably manic performance (with copious references to drugs, making me wonder how much Dreyfus was actually into this) and Goritsas' Schneider suitably calm and restrained (though a slightly forced American accent).

This play was originally performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but it well suited to the small, personal interior of the Ambassador's in London. It is 1 hour and 30 minutes long with no interval. The programme at £5 (credit/debit card payments only) has a good selection of background material and is worth a look.


Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2021-10-28

Ambassadors Theatre

Location: London (England)

Address: West Street, London WC2H 9ND ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Leicester Square

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7395 5405


The Ambassadors is a small theatre across from The Ivy and just next door to “St. Martin's Theatre” (home to “The Mousetrap”) on West Street, a small distance from Leicester Square. The foyer is tiny with stairs leading down to the stalls or up to the circle. There are bars on each level and acoustics are acceptable.