REVIEW: Jalz

There are few stories as synonymous with summer as that of “Jaws.”  It is the quintessential summer blockbuster featuring robust characters, taut thrills, and just the right amount of action. There’s a reason it remains a perennial favorite.

I can’t say that I ever thought it would make for a good stage play, though.

But Trey Tatum, one of Cincinnati’s genius playwrights, envisioned a sequel that is better than Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D, and way better than Jaws 4: The Revenge.  What would have happened all these years later when that police chief’s granddaughter started trying to understand what really happened out there on that boat?  What was the aftermath of that fateful night on the boat?  JALZ explores that – and more.  It’s poignant, moving, funny, and deftly entertaining.

The cast is terrific; featuring Jordan Trovillion (a well-kept local almost-secret with a whole bunch of film credits) as the granddaughter in search of the family’s Island legacy, Hannah Sheppard as a compassionate nurse, and the perfectly-cast Daniel Britt.  Britt puts forth a versatile performance, playing both the father (you remember him, right? He was eleven when “the attacks” took place) and the grandfather, afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease and a whole bunch of regrets.  Few play angry better on stage than Britt; but he gets to show new shades and colors in this role than we’ve seen from him before.

Director Bridget Leak stages the show with realism and sincerity.  Using part of Mikki Schaffner’s photography studio, the set is minimal but effective.  As the character’s re-tell the famous hunt, they use ordinary objects to re-create the magic of the film.  And Tatum’s musical underscore, which pays homage while avoiding duplication, gives the play the cinematic feel it deserves.

This is one of those shows that sneak up on you . . . like me, I bet you will also be shark-bit by the wit, the tenderness, and the brilliant writing.  Don’t miss it!

JALZ runs through next Sunday at Essex Studios. Tickets and more information are available here.