The cast of the Shark is Broken on stage

REVIEW: ‘The Shark Is Broken’ Gives Us the Bite Behind ‘Jaws’

A must-see!

The origin of the blockbuster can be traced back to Steven Spielberg’s 1975 summer hit Jaws. It changed the way that people viewed movies, and while many go back and forth on the meaning behind it all, one thing is certain: It’s a movie about a shark. As someone who has a debilitating fear of sharks, the idea of a play about the creation of Jaws gave me a slight pause (even though I love the movie). Luckily, the play moves away from the fear of what lurks in the water and focuses instead on the real struggle that Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw faced while filming the classic.

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For a 9-week period, the three men were stuck on a boat together as they struggled to get Bruce (the shark) to work accordingly. The play explores what the three did while they sat on a boat slightly off set and had conversations about their careers and childhoods, and often experienced a clash of egos, especially between Shaw and Dreyfuss. As someone who, again, hates sharks but loves breaking down an actor’s process, this show is a perfect look into these three actors and where they were in their careers while filming the movie.

At this point in history, Jaws has become something entirely different than the struggle of filming. If anything, fans remember their favorite moments and not the blood, sweat, and tears that went into bringing it to life. While The Shark Is Broken isn’t a perfect history of the filming, it is a fascinating look into where Scheider, Dreyfuss, and Shaw were while stuck filming 5 weeks longer than they thought.

The play is short, contained, and a beautiful nod to both fans of Jaws and those who might not know anything about it. All thanks to the cast.

A perfect cast

The cast of the Shark is Broken on stage
(Matthew Murphy)

Colin Donnell plays Roy Scheider and is the calm of the piece. He bridges the gap between Robert Shaw’s personality and Richard Dreyfuss’ fears. Dreyfuss is played by Alex Brightman, who has managed to bring the actor to life on stage in a way that makes you question whether it just isn’t Dreyfuss time traveling from back in the ’70s. His near-perfect impersonation pairs perfectly with Donnell’s energy as Roy Scheider and the striking resemblance between Ian Shaw and his father, Robert Shaw.

A character-driven piece, The Shark Is Broken wouldn’t have worked if the three actors didn’t have chemistry (however heated those conversations got in the boat), mainly because they’re the audience’s only source of information. There’s no real outside force pushing against them, other than the occasional check in about filming and where Bruce is at the time. It’s a part of cinema history that if you know anything about Spielberg, you know. Bruce constantly broke, which made filming difficult.

What we don’t know that much about is how these three actors handled it. The Shark Is Broken gives us their own insight into how they dealt with it, from the perspective of what we’ve known and a beautiful script written by Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon. Directed by Guy Masterson, The Shark Is Broken gives us a bite of the story of Jaws in a perfect 95-minute meal.

(featured image: Matthew Murphy)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.