The Shark Is Broken Reviews
The New York Times- Somewhat Recommended
"...But these details do not on their own create much dramatic interest. Plots consisting of hurry-up-and-wait rarely do. Were it not for its curious meta-story, the play would be little more than a pleasant diversion: 95 minutes of bloodless, toothless, Hollywood-adjacent dramedy."
Vulture- Somewhat Recommended
"...Although the play is situated on that boat, the problem quickly becomes that it’s really about everything that happens after Jaws is released, which is where the lore comes in. Shaw and Nixon’s script leans heavily on your assumed awareness of what would soon happen when Spielberg’s event movies devour the New Hollywood experimentation of the 1970s and lead us right to our current cinematic universe. So there are awkward, audience-pandering jokes wherein Shaw says, “UFOs! Aliens! Jesus! Whatever next? Dinosaurs?” and you think about Jurassic Park, or when Scheider insists he’ll never do a sequel to Jaws, and you recall that he was roped, unhappily, into one."
New York Theater- Recommended
"...But it’s the reflected cinematic glory in this modest stage comedy that surely explains why, four years after its month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, it has opened tonight on Broadway. The production is not an embarrassment. All three actors give uncanny impersonations that sometimes shade into nuanced portraits. The design team does an impressive job with a subtly animated, ever-changing backdrop for the fishing boat of rolling sea and cloud-streaked sky."
"...But Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon’s play “The Shark is Broken,” which bills itself in its promo material as a “behind-the-scenes comedy about the making of ‘Jaws’,” is, under Guy Masterson’s direction, about as fun as a being stuck on a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean for weeks on end with three tiresome men."
New York Post- Somewhat Recommended
"...The play is extremely aware — too aware! — of the legacy of “Jaws” and of future events to come, and endlessly references them. The shark is broken, but the winks are in overdrive."
amNY- Somewhat Recommended
"...It is essentially a male-dominated, sentimental buddy comedy, full of comic banter, oddball observations, horseplay and obvious nods to the future (i.e. sequels, “Jurassic Park,” a president more immoral than Nixon) plus some emotional confessions and even introspection about the film’s inner meaning. It ends with Shaw (who is the play’s most deeply-explored character) performing his character’s sobering U.S.S. Indianapolis monologue."
Time Out New York- Recommended
"...If not for our ongoing fascination with Jaws, The Shark Is Broken would be of limited interest: three men in a boat reading newspaper articles (“NIXON RESIGNS”), reminiscing about their childhoods, bickering about Hollywood and drinking a whole lot more than they should. But since the movie remains a cultural touchstone, the play makes for pleasant entertainment. Director Guy Masterson does an admirable job of finding tension and variety in a very low-stakes situation; scenic designer Duncan Henderson’s cross-section of a boat is effectively nested in Nina Dunn’s video design, a curving backdrop of water and sky."
Stage and Cinema- Highly Recommended
"...Stories abound about the problem-plagued production of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster Jaws, a thriller about a 25-foot-long great white shark that eats unsuspecting swimmers around the (fictional) island of Amity, New York, and about the three men who go out on a fishing boat called the Orca to kill it. The film’s three heroes are Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss; Sheriff Brody, played by Roy Scheider; and Quint, played by Robert Shaw."
StageZine- Highly Recommended
"...You don’t have to be a film aficionado or a movie buff to enjoy the thoroughly delightful and entertaining comedy The Shark Is Broken. It is so concise in its writing that it immediately immerses one in the narrative."
Daily Beast- Highly Recommended
"...The play, directed with a guileful brevity by Guy Masterson, is, in one sense, intensely personal because of Shaw’s writing and performance. He looks so like his father and the play both shows Shaw Sr. as a very funny, pugnacious, grizzled-way-too-young character actor and also a bellicose, alcoholic bully who guzzles booze, holds forth, seethes, and—in quieter moments—reveals the private pains hidden behind his sulfurous exterior."
The Observer- Somewhat Recommended
"...That could have been a fruitful idea to pursue (what is this affair but recycled IP), but The Shark Is Broken isn’t an ambitious drama, just an unusual workplace dramedy with a genealogical twist. The single, floating locale is simulated with tasteful realism in Duncan Henderson’s sets and vivid but unobtrusive background video by Nina Dunn. Despite well-paced direction by Guy Masterson, an hour of Hollywood bitching and gossip is plenty, and the last thirty minutes drag. A more daring piece might break the fourth wall and go meta, with Shaw stepping off the boat and speaking candidly about his father and the strange project of channeling the man who died when he was eight years old. Instead, we never paddle out of the shallows of sitcom pathos."
Total Theater- Recommended
"...The play is slight. It’s significant that the most impactful and emotional moments come from other sources—Shaw quoting Shakespeare, Scheider quoting “Casablanca,” and Shaw performing his “Jaws” character Capt. Quint’s harrowing account of surviving a massive shark attack (the star rewrote the speech, editing it down from four pages in the original screenplay). There are also several easy, ironic gags about Trump, climate change, and the future dumbing-down of mass-market movies. But Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon’s script has numerous hilarious scenes of Robert Shaw and Dreyfuss attempting to one-up each other, directed with precision by Guy Masterson."