Oscar E Moore

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THE SHARK IS BROKEN – or how JAWS was almost not made – sort of

August 18th, 2023 by Oscar E Moore

Disclaimer #1 I never saw JAWS the movie nor did I ever want to.  Disclaimer # 2 I read the script the night before I saw the production at The John Golden Theater on West 45th Street.  Not at all what I expected.  I liked it.

Not so during or after squirming in my seat for 95 minutes (no intermission) watching three able actors racing through their dialogue, cavorting themselves as the replicas of the original stars of said film that was directed by a very young Steven Spielberg who insisted filming at sea off Martha’s Vineyard and not in a studio water tank – for verisimilitude (thank goodness for spellcheck).

It’s sort of like Four Jills in a Jeep (anyone remember that one?)  This time ‘round it’s Three Guys on a cut-away tugboat (a boat that seems docked in cement) that has our three heroes Roy Scheider (a fine Colin Donnell) Richard Dreyfuss (a manic and quite frankly annoying Alex Brightman – an exhausting performance – true to form I suppose) and last but not least Robert Shaw – herein portrayed by none other than his son Ian Shaw with such a heavy accent that even with ear-phones much of his dialogue is garbled.  Not to mention his heavy drinking.

Shaw needs his booze.  Dreyfuss needs his women, drugs and reassurance and Roy needs his NY Times and some sunshine to work on his tan.

Speaking of which he, at one time, out of the blue, strips down to his black speedo and sits with a sun reflector.  Despite his glorious body as a relief from the flying gulls and animated seascape this gratuitous gimmick doesn’t help the story one bit.

Mr. Shaw also co-wrote the script with Joseph Nixon who I imagine is no relation to “that” infamous NIXON featured on the front page of the NY Times that the calm, level-headed and smart Roy quotes from.

This play does have its moments of comedy.  A bit of a song.  A bit of Shakespeare.

However, it is not about the filming of JAWS but about these three guys having to put up with each other for a rather long time.  Weeks not 95 minutes as I had to as they await the magic cinematic word “action” which our director Guy Masterson (and I use the term loosely) is at a loss to supply in this wishy-washy exercise.  Interesting idea.  Faulty execution.

Mr. Masterson seems to be at sea literally as to what to do with his three stars who while away the days and days and days as the production is delayed all because BRUCE the shark in question keeps breaking down.

Drinking, drugging, bickering like school girls, complaining, comparing past childhoods and playing cards and an English penny pushing game on a table that leaves you time to admire the Cinerama like projections of the sea and sky and gulls and waves that never seem to rock the boat even a bit.

Describing the film that they are trying to finish (do the job, get paid, go home) as “a trifle, an entertainment” sums it up for THE SHARK IS BROKEN as well.  I felt that they hit the nail right on the head.


PHOTOS:  Matthew Murphy

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