Part insider look at the making of the film Jaws and part musings on what constitutes an artist, The Shark is Broken, written by Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon and directed by Guy Masterson, is exactly what the characters in the play are grappling with: A commercial piece of art that, despite being commercial, has something of immense value to offer to its artists and audiences.
A meditation on the idea of what constitutes art and what is the role of the artist in our society
Set on the film set of Jaws, the play follows the conversations between actors Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw while they were stuck out to sea on the movie’s boat, The Orca, waiting for the mechanical shark Bruce to actually work.
The play, which begins as a humorous look at three different actors at different stages of their careers as they drink and chat with each other to pass time, quickly becomes much more; a meditation on the idea of what constitutes art and what is the role of the artist in our society. Richard Dreyfuss, played with comedic gusto by Liam Murray Scott, complete with the neurotic mannerisms we see in the film, is on a quest for fame. While Scheider, played by Duncan Henderson, as the stoic, if not so bright, straight man, seems satisfied to take the work where he can get it. The two are on opposite extremes of the artist divide. Then enters Robert Shaw, played with humor and immense emotional depth by the late actor’s son Ian Shaw.
Robert Shaw’s character is portrayed as the elder statesman of the group who’s career has had both successful artistic experiences and commercial success. Shaw, however, is looking to move on from performing; instead interesting in becoming a writer.
The play, under the masterful direction of Guy Masterson, zips along at a clipped pace, alternating between punch lines and poignant moments as we get to watch casual banter between the three actors become inspiration for some of the classic scenes in the beloved film Jaws. All three actors give standing ovation-worthy performances, at first brilliantly mimicking the attributes of the famous actors they play, and then evolving beyond superficial imitation into a place where actor and character become indistinguishable.
But the true emotional heart of the story is learning that Robert Shaw actually wrote the iconic Indianapolis monologue from the film. As performed by Robert’s son Ian, the audience gets to see the son help the father achieve his dream of being recognised for the talented writer he was. The Shark is Broken deserves a long run well beyond the Fringe!