DR SAX was written as a vehicle for the ʻCellist and Singer Matthew Sharp in his inaugural year as Artistic Director of the Deal Festival . It is a surreal musical comedy lasting around 25 minutes and centers around two characters
- IZZY SHARP, a Vaudeville Singer whoʼs ʻshowmanʼ-style performances are supposedly long out-dated, and DR SAX, a psychiatrist with the imaginary ʻMusic Policeʼ, who attempts to ʻcureʼ Izzy Sharp of his antiquated humour and ʻsing-alongʼ songs, in favour of a more contemporary type of music.
Although purporting to have serious intent, DR SAX himself is a ridiculous character, and his dead-pan belief that overtly modernist music works a psychological ʻcureʼ for classically-based harmony and old-fashioned humour turns him into an apparently inadvertent joke. IZZY SHARP, who has much in common with Archie Rice (played by Laurence Olivier in ʻThe Entertainerʼ film by John Osborne and Tony Richardson, 1960) is a fun, cockney ʻturnʼ from The Good Old Days of Music Hall, but is troubled by doubt and verges on a psychological illness, probably schizophrenia.
However, there is no serious ʻmessageʼ in DR SAX about music, or anything else. The fact that the success of the latter part of the comedy relies on the audience knowing that John Harle wrote the theme-tune to the BBC television series ʻSilent Witnessʼ already consigns Dr SAX to a temporary world as an ʻin-jokeʼ amongst friends, and therefore itʼs longevity has more in common with IZZY SHARPʼs fading world than with serious music-theatre.
DR SAX is merely fun, and in itself, of course, a silly vaudeville.
JOHN HARLE. April 2011.