Critics largely found that The Shark is Broken, the new behind-the-scenes play following the frustrated actors waiting to film Jaws, was out of its depth, and much better suited to its initial shorter and intimate staging at Edinburgh Festival Fringe than the Great White Way. Though praised for performances and staging, the script lacked teeth and the full event ultimately left critics lukewarm.
New York Times Review for The Shark is Broken
…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. …the dialogue overall is labored. Through much of the longish first scene, the authors stuff résumé excerpts and scraps of back story into envelopes of supposedly casual dialogue. … In the end, “The Shark Is Broken” isn’t interested in argument and interpretation any more than “Jaws” was… “It’s about a shark!” … So is the play, in a way, and that’s why it remains diverting enough for a summer on Broadway.
TimeOut Review for The Shark is Broken
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… The best thing onstage is Brightman, whose huffy, neurotic Dreyfuss powers the show with boosts of dynamic comedy. Otherwise, the humor relies too heavily on what might be called retrospective irony: The slightly smug amusement that results when we, in the present, watch people in the past predict or mispredict their future.
New York Post for The Shark is Broken
“The Shark Is Broken,” a new Broadway comedy about the behind-the-scenes squabbles during the making of “Jaws,” frequently asks whether Steven Spielberg’s seminal blockbuster is art or entertainment. History has determined that it’s both — a monster movie, yes, but one overflowing with cinematic innovation and panache that amounted to a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar nomination and enduring worldwide fame. But Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon’s wishy-washy play, which opened Thursday at the Golden Theatre, struggles to be either as it depicts actors Robert Shaw (Ian Shaw), Roy Scheider (Colin Donnell) and Richard Dreyfuss (Alex Brightman) going at each other’s throats off-camera. … Regardless, the three performers have strong chemistry, and manage to rise above mere impressions — even while doing spot-on impersonations of the film’s stars. … Still, on Broadway, the little play gets swallowed up like a doomed teen in Amity.
Deadline Review for The Shark is Broken
Set on the floating junk heap of a fishing vessel instantly familiar from 1975 movie, The Shark Is Broken features three fine, uncannily on-point performances from Alex Brightman (as a hilariously neurotic and “snow”-snorting Richard Dreyfus), co-playwright Shaw (a dead-ringer, both in looks and mannerism, for his late father Robert Shaw, who played sharkhunter Quint in the film) and Colin Donnell (as the peacemaking Roy Scheider). Directed by Gus Masterson on a terrifically effective single set by Duncan Henderson (who also designed the period-perfect costumes) and with lighting and video designs (Jon Clark, Nina Dunn, respectively) so vivid you can almost smell the salt air, The Shark Is Broken moves more efficiently than ol’ Bruce ever did, but unlike the cinematic Great White, the play provides few surprises. … Beyond its good will and nostalgic conjuring, The Shark Is Broken is too slender a tale, too gentle, to provide thrills or even, truth be told, much drama.