15 August 2019, The Tablet

Real life on the line

Real life on the line

Ajjaz Awad, Reuben Joseph, Daniel Cahill and Esme Bayley in How Not to Drown
Mihaela Bodlovic


Our theatre critic reports from Edinburgh on this year’s hits and surprises

The posters and flyers that cover every vertical Edinburgh surface in August seem especially heavy this year with personal experience – multiple shows promise the lowdown on performers’ illnesses, mental conditions, sex lives, brutal childhoods or collapsed marriages. The popularity of confession may reflect a calculation that, choosing between thousands of shows, visitors may judge that autobiography guarantees authenticity.

Certainly, the big popular hit of the 2019 Fringe, The Shark is Broken (Assembly George Square) gains considerable advantage from the fact that Ian Shaw – co-author (with Joseph Nixon) and co-star – is portraying his father, the actor Robert Shaw (1927-1978), during the filming, on location on the Atlantic Ocean, of Jaws in 1974.
Even without the dynastic writing and casting, this would be a very sharp and funny Hollywood behind-the-scenes piece, as Shaw, uncannily recreated by his son, and two other impressively lookalike actors, Roy Scheider (Duncan Henderson) and Richard Dreyfuss (Liam Murray Scott), drink, bicker and tell stories on a boat during one of numerous filming delays caused by the malfunctions of “Bruce”, the pneumatic plastic model starring as the title character in Spielberg’s movie.

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