The Boards at The Edinburgh Playhouse is one of those rooms playing host to Fringe performers that just exudes glamour. From the sumptuous seating to the eye-watering price for a bottle of lager, everything seems designed to remind you that this is a special night out. It’s a fitting home for the towering 6ft figure of Miss Hope Springs. Dressed in a prismatic gold-sequined pant suit and blonde beehive adding almost an extra foot to her height, this is one lady that cannot be ignored when she enters the room. And nor would you want to. From start to finish, this is a mesmerising show.
Miss Hope Springs takes the drag genre to a new level with such professional flair that it’s impossible to find fault.
The drag circuit in the UK is almost entirely made up of gay pubs/clubs and hen parties where the job of the drag is to get the stripper on. So the acts that work them tend to be pretty ‘robust’ ad-lib affairs with a very liberal interpretation of where the line is. Miss Hope Springs is different. This is not a set full of blue gags and diva ballads, but a carefully scripted and beautifully delivered mixture of hilarious anecdote and original song. If there was one word to describe Miss Hope it would be sophisticated. She may throw the occasional sequined grenade over the line, but she never crosses it herself.
Miss Hope accompanies herself effortlessly on a grand piano, assisted by bassist Gordon Davidson and Colin McGibbon on drums. The songs, all written by Miss Hope’s alter-ego Ty Jeffries, never let her down. From the jocular highs of (A Seedy Little Nightclub in) Pigale to the melancholy of She’s His World, we’re stumbling down a musical side street inhabited by Brel and Bacharach. It’s the kind of set that you wouldn’t be surprised to see at the Café de Paris or headlining the Hippodrome Casino and indeed, this Edinburgh run for Miss Hope follows a hugely successful run at London’s Crazy Coqs – possibly one of the best venues for cabaret in the West End.
Miss Hope Springs takes the drag genre to a new level with such professional flair that it’s impossible to find fault. The music is captivating and the stories are riotous. I think Miss Hope may have even casually dropped in what may be the funniest joke I’ve heard all Fringe. My only regret is that the pressures of Fringe schedules being what they are, I only managed to catch this on the last night of her limited run so you will need to seek this out beyond Edinburgh. But it’ll be well worth the effort.