Review: Reuben Kaye at Assembly Checkpoint

Reuben Kaye looks amazing: toweringly tall, covered in sequins, with cheekbones to die for and a record-breaking amount of mascara. The London-based Aussie is a cabaret creature to the core.

Backed by four musicians, Kaye delivers an intimate, powerful and astonishingly full-on performance. He postures, he preens, he glories in his sexuality and relishes the power to declare the room a queer space. Kaye teases, goads and flirts. He makes us laugh, then belts out songs from Brecht and Weill, Kate Bush and Iggy Azelea.

Thanks to his ballerina mother and his bohemian father, Kaye’s chat is loaded with cultural and artistic references – although it’s probably a mistake to keep assuming that an Edinburgh arts festival audience won’t follow them. But he carries us all with him when he reveals his personal backstory: growing up in a small town, discovering he was gay and suffering the terrible consequences.

Like a lot of cabaret artists Kaye wears his glitter like a shield but he’s not afraid to reveal the vulnerable beating heart inside. We all share his glory and celebrate his spirit as he reappears in an even more glittering outfit for his triumphant, roaring finale.

Reuben Kaye, Assembly Checkpoint, 31 Jul – 25 Aug (not 21), 9.30pm

The Kaye Hole, Assembly Checkpoint, 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25 Aug, 11.15pm

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