Fringe Review: Leather Lungs – Shut Up and Sing

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By Tabitha Lean

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Well, wasn’t that a surprise!

I went to Leather Lungs: Shut Up and Sing with zero expectations but came out an unabashed devotee, wrapped in glitter and sass!

Leather Lungs: Shut Up and Sing is not just a cabaret drag show; it’s an immersive journey into the depths of the human experience. From the moment the artist takes the stage, the audience is not merely a passive observer but an integral part of the artist’s emotional rollercoaster where we are given the honour of seeing into the artist’s world, and surprisingly finding ourselves digging deep into the depths of our own.

Drag artist Jason Chasland, aka Leather Lungs, skilfully blends songs with poignant storytelling, creating a show that transcends the boundaries of a typical cabaret. With a perfect blend of savage wit, comedy, and tragedy, we travelled through abusive relationships, sailing past red flags, ignoring them at our peril, and coming out the other end a little battered but wiser. We came to understand – through belting vocals and genius lyrics – mental illness and to see inside the anxious mind, the sad mind and the survivor’s mind. The most poignant part of the performance for me, was the song sang to our insecurities, because my life is full of these.

Leather Lungs sang to the little voice in our head telling us who and what we are, what we can’t be or can’t do. They sang to the wounded child, the abandoned child and the neglected child in all of us. They sang to the little girl in me, still looking for validation outside of myself, because I am still unable to find it within. Every word (and shimmy) from the artist seemed to reach into my soul and shake the threads holding my heart against my rib cage and say, ‘wake up, Tabitha, you’re enough!’ What a gift to give your audience.

However, amidst the profound reflections on life’s struggles, Leather Lungs maintains its cheeky and fun essence. The drag elements, glitter, and sparkle add a layer of entertainment that complements the deeper narratives. The show strikes a delicate balance, allowing many, many moments of deep joy and raucous laughter to coexist with the more intense and introspective aspects. The homage to the performer’s nan is particularly touching, as the audience is enveloped in the warmth of her embrace through beautifully crafted odes. It is towards the end of the show, however, that sealed the deal for me and my activist heart.

The show became not just a show singing to a tent of people. Leather Lungs spoke of our socio-political climate of war, police killings and the general despair many of us are feeling living in the current world. It was then that Leather Lungs performance of Shut up and Sing served as a rallying cry for action, urging the audience to share their platforms, speak out, and just ‘bloody sing’ in the face of adversity. It became a powerful reminder to stand up and turn up during these troubled times of war, death, and state-sanctioned killings.

Leather Lungs: Shut Up and Sing transcends the boundaries of traditional cabaret drag shows, offering a unique and unforgettable experience. It combines soul-stirring performances, poignant storytelling, and a cheeky, glittery flair to deliver a show that is not only entertaining and highly energetic but also deeply resonant and socially relevant. I urge you to get along and see it. You will be surprised. I was. This show will stay with me for quite some time.

5 stars

To book tickets to this show, go here.

 

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