Review: The Shark Is Broken West End Theatre London

This unsinkable play is a master class in writing and acting. The three lead actors shooting  blockbuster “Jaws” in 1974 are stuck on a boat off Martha’s Vineyard while the unreliable mechanical shark is being repaired. They have time to kill on board the Orca and almost each other.  Projected lapping waves, and clouds move across the remarkable set as the chilling theme music strikes up. There’s a gasp when the actors appear on stage, they look, sound and act like the originals Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and the up-and-coming James Dreyfuss. This is a movie being shot by the 26 year-old director Steven Spielberg and is running overbudget at $4 million and the guys are at a loose end between takes, being funny and vicious.

The Shark Is Broken – design by Duncan Henderson

Bruce, the broken shark, led to the movie’s now iconic, suspenseful innovations – we don’t actually see the shark until well into the film – at one hour and 21 minutes and much of the shark hunt is chasing harpooned floating yellow barrels. Spielberg used multiple shots of just the dorsal fin, superb underwater footage from the shark’s point of view and, of course, building tension with the unforgettable, pounding John Williams’ score.

Onboard, the superb cut-out vessel on set, Robert Shaw rehearses a flabby scene from the movie but rewrites it for great and thrilling dramatic effect.  What is remarkable is watching the actor playing Robert Shaw and thinking he’s almost a double, well he is sort of, being the late actor’s son Ian Shaw. 

They bicker over everything, play cards and Shove Ha’penny (you’ll have to see the play) and drink, a lot. There are plenty of laugh out moments from the movie in-jokes, Spielberg’s voice off stage, and musing on the doomed to fail movie with no chance of a sequels. In fact, the box office for the Jaws movies is now over $800 million.

The reviews have given this play, a transfer from the Edinburgh Fringe,  five stars across the board and I agree – it’s a spellbinding piece of theatre, and you’ll certainly want to see the film now for the first or umpteenth time.

Take some sea sick pills if you don’t do boats, the lapping waves are unnerving.

The show runs at 90 minutes without an interval and is suitable for 14+ years-old especially with its colourful language and use of alcohol and drugs.

The Shark is Broken’ is at the Ambassadors Theatre in London be quick though ‘Must close February 13th!’

MANinLONDON at The Shark Is Broken 2022