Hope Springs eternal
I’m rather late to the cult of Miss Hope Springs. About a décennie late, as it happens. But last night I beheld her for the very first time and had what can only be described as a religious experience – if a religion can revolve around a man in a dress, which I believe it can.
The supposed daughter of the unlikely sounding Rusty Springs, Miss Hope is played by Ty Jeffries, the real life son of Lionel Jeffries. Show business flows through her veins – together with liquor and pills. And what a special creation she is. Through a mixture of (mostly) comic songs and monologues, she offers us a glimpse into her glamorous life as a showbiz diva and drug-addled, downtrodden wife whose husband has traded her in for a much younger, male model.
The songs are hugely enjoyable and often unexpectedly moving. Hope’s less than innocent time as a showgirl in “gay Paree” has certainly left its mark. There’s more than a hint of chanson, the likes of which Charles Aznavour would be proud. The jokes fly thick and fast, but there’s also real pathos here. Behind the glitter and the sequins there’s a rounded character study of heartbreak and broken dreams. Hope is a little like Judy Garland in I Could Go On Singing – past her prime but still clinging on with grim determination. The gal’s got grit and wit in spades. You can’t help but love her for it.