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How ‘The Shark Is Damaged’ Is Bringing ‘Jaws’ to Broadway

The Shark Is Damaged, which formally opens Thursday at New York’s John Golden Theatre, isn’t a screen-to-stage adaptation of Jaws, so that you gained’t see any shark bites. As an alternative, it’s impressed by the famed behind-the-scenes drama on the set of Steven Spielberg’s iconic 1975 movie, a troublesome shoot plagued with points together with the frequent malfunctioning of its mechanical shark. The one-act play hones in on the tense dynamic between the movie’s three stars—Robert Shaw (who performed the steely shark hunter Quint), Roy Scheider (police chief Martin Brody), and Richard Dreyfuss (oceanographer Matt Hooper)—throughout a fictional day of filming, as they’re caught ready whereas the crew offers with yet one more shark-induced delay. Sitting aboard the Orca, the small fishing vessel of “You’re gonna want a much bigger boat” fame, the lads banter and butt heads (and, in Robert’s case, booze), whereas questioning whether or not the film they’re making will, to maintain with the nautical theme, sink or swim.

From Matthew Murphy.

The comedy was cowritten by Joseph Nixon and Ian Shaw, who’s the son of Robert Shaw and portrays him within the play. The actor and playwright says the script’s humor helps uncover one thing deeper. “I cherished Jaws, and one in all my favourite issues about it’s the humor in that movie. It softens you up, and then you definitely’re in a susceptible place for the horror—and we don’t have horror on this play, however there’s an emotional thread,” he explains in a latest Zoom name with Vainness Truthful. “So I believed we’d get the viewers laughing, then we are able to discover the extra harmful territory of dependancy, and the issues these males don’t need to speak about.”

Shaw visited the Jaws set when he was about 5 years previous, assembly each the director and the mechanical shark nicknamed Bruce. (“My recollection is that I believed [Spielberg] was a bit too younger to be telling my dad what to do,” he says now. “As a result of I believed it was odd that anybody can be telling my dad what to do. He appeared like he needs to be telling everybody else what to do.”) The concept of writing a play impressed by his father’s expertise got here partly from his longtime admiration of Jaws, together with an uncanny second when he donned a mustache for a job and realized it made him appear to be his dad.

From Matthew Murphy.

The act of enjoying his father was surreal at first. “There’s plenty of armor once you’re placing on these two characters,” he says, referring to each Robert Shaw and Quint. “Clearly, the movie was brilliantly forged—though Robert wasn’t like Quint in actual life, he had sufficient qualities that he may use to make that really feel very convincing. They’re each fearless males. So it’s curious once you placed on that fearless armor. It’s fairly liberating as a result of I’m a typical British man, and we’re actually not fearless. We’re inspired to be apologetic, I believe, greater than something, and Robert appeared to have missed that class.”

Whereas a passion for Jaws (or the flexibility to look at it with out shutting your eyes throughout these shark assaults) isn’t required, followers of the movie will discover an ocean’s price to take pleasure in in The Shark Is Damaged—and round its stage. Designer Duncan Henderson has recreated the Orca in spectacular element, from the interior cabin the place Quint’s storied USS Indianapolis speech takes place to the props crammed into the house.

Henderson had thought-about setting up a extra summary design for the present’s Broadway bow (it’s beforehand been staged at Edinburgh Fringe and for an Olivier-nominated flip in London), however the authenticity Shaw delivered to enjoying his father required a extra devoted rendition.