Venue: Assembly Checkpoint
Australian cabaret star Reuben Kaye makes a welcome return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with two shows, late night variety act The Kaye Hole and a self-titled solo cabaret show. The latter is a hurricane of camp, sweat and sparkles as Kaye mixes audience interaction, powerhouse vocals, and personal anecdote to produce a raucous late night feast.
Kaye welcomes us into the Assembly Checkpoint mingling around his audience and directing people to the bar. From the onset, his natural manner with the audience and quick-wit is apparent. When everyone is seated he launches into a wild rendition of ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man with the accompaniment of a full live band. His command for the stage is mesmerising and with thick black mascara and a sparkling ruby red jacket he is an engrossing figure to watch. Yet the audience are equally part of the show – Kaye plays with them in a faux-dismissive manner as he asks men their name and doesn’t wait for an answer. Audience surveys and fast-paced interactions showcase Kaye’s intelligence as a performer and love for the stage.
His material is cutting and fresh – references to alternative Fringe venues (not A or B…) and proposed titles for his show – 12 Years a Slave… to the Rhythm – are brutally amusing. Yet Kaye’s cultural awareness provides a joyous blend of the aggressively crude and artistically sophisticated. References to Tolstoy, Chekhov, Caravaggio and Bernini explore the rich cultural knowledge underpinning Kaye’s intelligent, quick-witted performance style.
Kaye’s own personal anecdotes are engaging and a heartbreaking, yet inspiring tale of a first crush at High School and an incident in the PE changing rooms help further engage us with the cabaret star. Rich powerhouse vocals lead us through a rendition of Charles Aznavour’s Sailor Boys – a performance enriched in emotional depth. Stellar interpretations of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, Iggy Azalea’s Fancy and Men at Work’s Land Down Under complete the evening’s musical performances – showcasing Kaye’s versatility as a performer.
Reuben Kaye is a raucous cabaret treat. His fiery stage persona, emotive vocal ability, and brutal razor-sharp wit help assert this as a commanding evening of late-night entertainment.