Sharknado 2: The Second One opens with sharks flying through the air at a plane, with one sinister shark consciously going after Tara Reid and biting off her hand which is gripping a gun. “He just had this look in his eyes,” she says. At the end (spoilers) former Chippendale Ian Ziering see’s that same shark, cuts it open and finds Tara Reid’s severed hand, still gripping the gun and uses it to kill another sinister shark. The reason this franchise has become a cult hit is because of its seriousness in ridiculous situations like this. Taking inspiration from Sharknado, Fiona Austin has fused Shakespeare’s bloodiest and most gruesome play Titus Andronicus with Sharknado campiness. It’s a winning combination.
The play is a very condensed form of the original with clever insertions of sharks – Tamora’s (Adrienne Marquand) children are sharks and her henchman/secret lover Aaron (Vernon Taylor) is half man half shark. Instead of playing up the gruesome as tragedy, they over-dramatise it making the scenes ridiculous. For instance when Lavinia (Ashley Marquand) has her hands and tongue cut off, her stumps are wrapped in the same bright floral fabric as her clothes and when she tries to tell everyone what happened red fabric (signifying blood) falls out of her mouth. Titus overreacts and then stuffs the fabric back into her mouth to great comedic effect.
The entire play is self reflexive as actors continually comment on the absurdity taking place. Linking it all together, Austin has cleverly added a “Mother Goose” character (Jo MacLachlan) to narrate the main plot points. MacLachlan at times embodies a Melissa McCarthy-esque quality as she guides us through the action, one minute screaming at the nonsense the other flirting with the main baddie Aaron. Sean Scofield as Titus is so over the top manic that every time his eyes bulge, the audience responds with wild laughter. There are so many hilarious takes on this tragedy that I’m now afraid it will color any future production I see of the original.