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Review: Leather Lungs at Trades Hall - Melbourne Fringe Festival

Review by Carly Fisher


To tackle a cabaret with a deep message about toxic relationships, whilst adorned in sparkles and feathers and singing catchy tunes, is not an easy task. In fact, in the hands of a lesser performer, the show’s set up would more than likely not work, especially in its potentially misplaced 6pm time slot.


From the moment Leather Lungs steps out on stage, the charisma and showmanship that oozes from this performer is palpable and leaves the audience beaming - and despite the heavy topics that are thrown our way during the show, we stay firmly on side with the performer throughout, mesmerised by the insane range of vocal gymnastics on display and the charming selection of belts throughout.

The night that I was in the audience, I sat right across the aisle from Leather Lungs’ parents, visiting from interstate and oozing with pride. Though deviating slightly from the more rehearsed script to share with us the importance of having their parents in the house, the inclusion of learning what Leather Lungs’ parents mean to them and why, and seeing their pure elation as each top note was hit, truly made my night. Show biz is one of those industry’s that if you are lucky enough to tackle with the support of your family, you are instantly the richer for it - it’s a family sport you see. So to learn that the costume designer for the night also answers to ‘mum’ and to see her jump to her feet for three separate standing ovations…simply, it was a joy to watch and a privilege to get to be a part of.


Songs range from those of Aretha to ABBA and even a little hint of the timeless classic ‘Old Macdonald had a Farm’ - a special inclusion for our performer’s favourite people, their nephews. The complexity of the arrangements is noticeable as early as the first song and the vocal tricks keep coming.


By the time I saw the show the voting booths had just closed and the country waited in anticipation for the decision and belting John Farnham’s ‘The Voice’ with a room full of other hopeful ‘yes’ voters was a moving experience that I will choose to remember with great fondness despite the way that the rest of the evening played out. So thanks Leather Lungs for those few moments of ignorant bliss!


It would be easy to be distracted by the sparkles, the hair, the feathers and certainly the vocals but this show carries a deeper meaning and Leather Lungs’ generosity and authenticity in sharing their horrific experiences with extremely bad domestic violence and emotional manipulation, is highly commendable. A true example of how one can use their platform to raise awareness and to remind people that they are never alone in this, that there is no one ‘type’ of victim.


In many ways, this show felt like a comeback tour for Leather Lungs after the awful experiences that they share with us. And what a comeback it was - a perfect reminder that you can never steal the voice of someone with such strength.


This show needs to tour and for purely selfish reasons, may I suggest Sydney next =)

I’ll be back in the audience, that’s for sure…hopefully opposite their mum once again!

Image Supplied

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