To have dealt with the very sad death of Barry Humphries and therefore no more magical mirth from Dame Edna, it seemed cruel to hear that yet another comedy creation, Miss Hope Springs, had announced her retirement to be cryogenically preserved in a Las Vegas entertainment emporium. A bitter blow and one that required attendance at what was to be her last ever show. Having been there at her first ever appearance it was essential that I attend.

So there I was, once again front row centre, the most dangerous seat in the house, ready to enjoy every last jibe, note and tear.

Mis Hope Springs is a very special creation, an act based on suspension of belief, on perfect timing, beautifully penned music, robustly comic rhymes and witty lyrics. Then in contrast there are sad and wistful songs, moving ballads written with the class of a Burt Bacharach or Jacques Brel. The acid wit twists and turns, one minute your sides aches from laughing and the next you’re reaching for a handkerchief and dabbing away tears.

The structure of the show is based around a Granada TV Christmas special, tragically in her words an unaired masterpiece. It’s a clever conceit that gives her plenty of opportunities to reveal insider gossip about her Hollywood and Vegas “friends”, and nothing is sacred. That razor sharp tongue licks a few legends into shape for sure and we the audience lap it up.

It’s saucy too, never lewd, well, having said that there are moments when we the audience are led, by hand, down a smutty path to create our own filth, that is her very special skill.

There are new compositions too, a very moving new seasonal love song called Star Fall, delivered in Hopes husky tones but not impossible to hear it sung by any number of singers, male or female. And at the heart of this act is an amazing talent for songwriting that no doubt we will hear more of when her “friend”Mr Ty Jeffries moves forward.

We bayed for an encore and were treated to a fan favourite, The Devil Made Me Do It, a show stopper this time marking the end of an era of award winning cabaret hits. Well Miss, if the devil really did make you do it he has a lot to answer for! Retired? Let’s wait and see, as you said, not adieu, just petit pois!

Andrew Kay

17 December

Ironworks Studios

Rating: ★★★★★

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