Miss Hope Springs: The Devil Made Me Do It review at Wigmore Hall, London – ‘witty and bittersweet cabaret’

Ty Jeffries in Miss Hope Springs: The Devil Made Me Do It
Ty Jeffries in Miss Hope Springs: The Devil Made Me Do It

There is a fine line between character comedy and drag. Both Barry Humphries and Paul O’Grady gave their drag persona such a rich, detailed history that they took on a life of their own. The same can be said of Ty Jeffries, whose alter ego Miss Hope Springs.

The comic creation has an elaborate backstory of life on the fringes of the music industry. A regular at Brasserie Zedel, Miss Hope Springs’ new touring show, The Devil Made Me Do It, sees the ex-Vegas showgirl spread her wings further afield.

Opening at the (appropriately named) Wigmore Hall, the elaborately coiffured Miss Springs, resplendent in scarlet sequins, cuts a striking figure. Jeffries constructs an exaggerated femininity that draws the audience in, but more engaging than both the image and the comedy is Jeffries’ undoubted skill as a songwriter. A master of musical pastiche, Jeffries set is witty and intelligent, while further informing Miss Hope Springs’ colourful life.

There’s a rich vein of comedy in numbers such as A Seedy Little Nightclub in Pigalle and marvellous Noel Coward tribute Please Don’t Desert Us at Dessert. Punctuating the laughter are more poignant songs, notably The Music of My Life, that lend texture to Miss Hope Springs’ chequered past. Even the sound issues that hampered the early part of the show failed to put a damper on this most talented of songwriters.

Verdict
Intelligent and witty drag cabaret that successfully fuses comedy with more bittersweet material
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