“A woman of a certain age…a show on a very tired stage,” should have been the billing for Miss Hope Springs…Sings Her Songs. Written and directed by Ty Jeffries, a graduate of The Purcell School of Music, this show claimed to be in the likes of a golden era of illustrious women known for their grace and panache. But how Jeffries allowed for either to shine through his alter ego Miss Hope I know not.
This show did not feel like an ode to the heyday of Shirley MacLaine or Carol Burnett…women who owned their tongue and cheek attitude and goofy wit. What this show did feel like however, was some sad lounge act you would find on The Strip of Las Vegas, some tired performer who won’t relinquish her role as diva and enter gracefully into the world retirement.
I can’t even say this undoubtedly harsh critique falls all on the broad and padded shoulders of Miss Hope. The Lounge at the Leicester Square Theatre left more than enough to be desired. The venue was cramped, uncomfortably so. I have been to nicer pub venues off the beaten path in London than that sad performance space. Sitting there I felt it was the sort of performance space you’d play in the beginning of your career in the festival circuit. It did not say this is the place for a diva but, perhaps Miss Hope does not earn the accolade of diva.
An inept lighting team forced Miss Hope to deal with simple house lighting; something that she made clear to the audience was entirely irksome. The costuming also did not hit the mark. Lounge acts and kitschy drag shows connote a certain amount of glitter, shine and confidence. I wanted something horrendously over the top in the vein of the House of Versace, but I was giving nothing more than Primark. RuPaul would have had a field day had he been forced to sit through this show and its lack of sparkle.
Perhaps I am being harsh, but in America, where I am from, drag shows are a genre taken very seriously. It is an art in its own right and this show just felt rifled with cliché. There was no sweetness or intelligence. The jokes were aged and tired. Miss Hope was fighting to be someone she doesn’t yet have the right to be. Miss Hope was the chorus girl longing to be Patti LuPone, the one the limelight shines so brightly upon. For now Miss Hope you will have to wait your turn, just like all the other darlings of the stage had to.