A couple of years ago, my husband and I introduced our daughter to the movie Jaws. It’s long been a favorite of my husband’s, and we both remember the frenzy the film (and its sequels) caused when released. Family lore is that he and his sister were afraid to get into the bathtub for days after seeing it.
But when our 11-year-old watched it, she laughed. And then, during Quint’s famous recounting of the USS Indianapolis disaster, she fell asleep. Ah, well.
It’s true; not everything about the 1975 Steven Spielberg film holds up to modern scrutiny, and the effects, of course, seem silly compared to today’s CGI capabilities. But few would argue with its designation as the original summer blockbuster, a memorable classic, which is why we return to it year after year … and why it’s such good fodder for parody.
Good Luck Macbeth Theatre Company has earned a reputation for its parodies of classic favorites—some pre-existing, and some actually conceived and written in house by talented teams of local writers/performers. Nowhere is that more apparent than with the company’s latest production, Shark!, a silly, campy parody of Jaws that offers plenty of Easter eggs and deep dives into plot points for die-hard fans, but also allows a whole new generation to dip their toes in the water, with plenty of snark, local references and current pop-culture callouts.
It’s summer in the beach town of Amity, on the opening day of its summer Artown celebration. Tourists are flocking to the beaches, but a young blonde was recently killed by a shark, so Police Chief Brody (played by Brandon Collins) wants to close the beach. The mayor (Cory Easley) flat-out refuses, with so many tourist dollars at stake. When little 6-year-old Alex and his oddly geriatric mother, Mrs. Kintner (Liz O’Neill)—why is she so old?—join the beachgoers, Alex is killed in a shark attack.
Now the community is out for blood. Local grizzled shark hunter Quint (David Richards) offers his know-how and his boat (for a price) to go kill the shark. Chief Brody, who has been terrified of water ever since a bad experience with a Kevin Costner film, must resolve the issue and reopen the beach, but he needs reinforcements.
Enter Matt Hooper (Leif Aucoin), a marine biologist with J.A.W.S., the Joint Aquatic Wet Scientists, who claims to understand sharks and know how to kill this particular menace (which is played brilliantly by comedian Nick Josten). Brody and Hooper take Quint up on his offer and head into open water to find little Alex’s killer.
While Shark! essentially follows the basic plot of Jaws, it also highlights how silly and weird so much of the original film (and its namesake book) actually is. It also manages to skewer much more than that—for instance, our own local theater scene, a controversial local personality we love to hate, and a memorable Super Bowl halftime show.
It’s a brisk 90-minute show, and you will spend almost the entire time laughing, I assure you. Many kudos are due to the GLM writing team, a team of longtime local performers whose proven comedic chops are razor sharp: Amanda Alvey-Fannin, Ashley Atack, Rhiannon Box, Ryan Costello, Ryan Kelly, Mojo Montelongo and Ian Sorensen. Much credit also goes to director Greg Klino, who had to captain this ship of foolishness and did so admirably.
You have a sea of entertainment options to choose from this month, but you should make a point to dive into this soon-to-be classic from GLM. It’s a wonderful reminder of how deep our local pool of exceptional comedic talent really is.
Good Luck Macbeth’s production of Shark! will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, through Saturday, July 29, at 124 W. Taylor St. Tickets are $28 to $38, with discounts. For tickets or more information, call 775-322-3716, or visit goodluckmacbeth.org.