Review: Reuben Kaye - Assembly Checkpoint

It takes a certain kind of person to rock a microphone with a ponytail. It takes a certain kind of person to sing Charles Aznavour and Iggy Azalea in the same show. It takes a certain kind of person to tenderly stroke the beard of the man in the front row. That kind of person is maybe just one person: Reuben Kaye. 

Fiercely queer, undeniably wicked and with more talent than someone with those cheekbones should be allowed, Kaye is a mesmerising presence on stage. He takes us on a journey: a “dark, award-winning cry for help” back to his childhood in Australia. It’s a deeply personal story and Kaye achieves an incredible intimacy in the moments between the innuendos and playful asides. With music from his live band, the Kaye Hole, Reuben gives us renditions of Kate Bush interspersed with a literary critique of Wuthering Heights and jokes about Bernini alongside blowjobs. Kaye isn’t afraid to bring the highbrow into an otherwise smut-filled show: he carries the room with him from joke to joke, as if he’s made it a personal mission to smash the cabaret of Weimar intellectuals together with the late-night bawdiness of a strip bar. 

With the sly smile and camp charisma of a Disney villain, Kaye lovingly terrorises his audience members, offering up several warnings to the heterosexual men present. Its in these improvised moments that his wit really sparkles. This is uninhibited cabaret for our times: a celebration of diversity, of the right to be different, the joy of theatre, to be present and to be laughing. Kaye is the star that cabaret needs right now.

Reuben Kaye is on at Assembly Checkpoint – Assembly Checkpoint at 21:30 until the 25th of August, not the 21st.

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