These leather lungs are worth hearing
Reviewed at Gluttony on 20 February 2019
Presented by Jason Chasland (Leather Lungs)
Out of the wisps of theatrical fog emerges a spangled, winged creature. Light bulbs gleam all along his huge wing struts. Yup, it’s the Fringe. Mr Chasland, late of New Zealand, performs a show which is a worthy successor to Impostar: Who Does he Think He Is? – his series of artful impressions of famous singers. He now claims to be a “Kwozzie” – a Kiwi-Aussie. I welcome you, Wairarapa boy.
Chasland is a fine singer, with resilient, leathery lungs… but he is so much more. He is a well-rounded performer – generous, energetic, capable of remarkable timbral adjustments to his vocal sound, constantly aware of his audience, and skilled at theatrically contextualising his lyrics.
He wears standard gender-fluid uniform – it’s everywhere this year! Beard, moustache, luxuriant pink-blonde wig, bustier, sequinned top and bright pink lace-up patent leather platform boots with 6-inch heel. To his credit, no costume item hinders his extravagant dance moves one bit.
The playlist is broad-ranging and entertaining. You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman, In These Shoes?, Everyone’s [expletiving] But Me, All By Myself, and a knockout version of You’re The Voice – each song carefully crafted to display a different vocal and performance presentation style. He does standout work on Jeanine Tesori’s Girl in 14G, a song which allows him to show off operatic, jazz and comically adenoidal voice qualities in rapid succession. His intonation is consistent throughout, whether doing the splits, bouncing up and down à la Russian Cossack dance, or sprawled upside down on a lounge chair. It’s an impressive, body-based singing technique.
Yes, Jason Chasland’s is a wonderful voice which should be heard. Sadly, we didn’t hear enough of it. There was an inordinate amount of audio spill from the nearby Spiegeltent for the first half of the show. In an attempt to handle it, the sound technician chose to crank the system up in our venue. Unfortunately, said sound tech. then neglected to mix Jason’s voice sufficiently front in the desk; his fine voice was too frequently drowned by muddied backing tracks. Not the artist’s fault. Another sound problem occurred throughout the show – Jason’s rapid-fire chat between songs, idiosyncratic and charming, was frequently lost because he failed to articulate with sufficient clarity, and (a sin he never committed in a song) forgot to maintain breath support to the end of each spoken phrase. Attention to details will lift this show from lively queen-fodder to a seriously entertaining international-standard showcase.
Reviewed by Pat. H. Wilson
Venue: Gluttony – Ukiyo
Season: 19th February – 3rd March, 2019
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $26 / $23