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Guest Blog: Director Guy Masterson On THE SHARK IS BROKEN


The play, about the making of Jaws, is now in the West End

The Shark is Broken
The Shark is Broken

For me, The Shark is Broken - or The Shark, as we call it - is the realisation of a perennial ambition: to bring theatre work from a Fringe environment to the West End. I have done it three times before with Under Milk Wood and Animal Farm in 1997 and Morecambe in 2009 - which went on to win an Olivier Award.

Ian Shaw, co-writer of The Shark, has been a friend and sometime colleague for 27 years and we have talked at length about our actor relatives, and our difficulties dealing with their legend while trying to forge our own careers independent of their reputations - good and bad.

In 1994, I directed a play about my uncle Richard Burton called Playing Burton where I was able, somewhat, to put the record straight about him and in doing so, put some of my own demons to bed. But when Ian called me after he came up with the idea of The Shark, and asked what I thought, I nearly spluttered my tea! I knew he'd be going on a similar journey, but tenfold - as he was going to actually play his father. But I knew that my own experience would be valuable to help him negotiate the challenge.

But far more important to Ian than the obvious angles of the project - Jaws, son-playing-father-reincarnating-Captain-Quint - were the artistic merits of the story, so he asked his friend, playwright Joseph Nixon, to join him in his quest to make the work far more than the sum of its parts.

Would it all work? Would it satisfy both theatre lovers and the multitude of Jaws fans out there, some of whom may not have seen many plays before? There is nothing more fabulous than watching an audience watching your work and then standing and cheering... and at our first West End preview, they did just that.

Who knows where this will lead, but if it is an inspiration to other theatre artists to follow their creative dreams then that's enough for me.

The Shark is Broken is at the Ambassadors Theatre until 15 January - book tickets here

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