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Review: Reuben Kaye Live and Intimate at The Banquet Room

The atmosphere at this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival has been palpable – energised, revitalised and empowered even.

This audience vibe is strengthened and galvanised.

And this feeling is substantiated by none other than performer for the people, Reuben Kaye in his pared down, one night only Live and Intimate show.

From his beginnings in the UK in 2010 as an acerbic host for cabaret and burlesque shows, Kaye began work as a solo artist in 2016, with his first appearance in Adelaide in 2017 with his original show The Butch is Back.

Kaye returns to Adelaide with his distinguishable spider lashes and luscious red lips to shock, entertain and remind us of the true origins of cabaret.

With his voice glistening like liquid gold, he began in the centre of the room, firing off with his signature quick wit, banter and one liners before bestowing us with his rendition of ‘Long List of Troubles’ by Gregory Porter.

This is an artist who doesn’t skirt around issues or mince his words – and the audience made up of all walks of life – the baby boomers, the first timers, the millennials – are here for it.

His comedy is not delivered just for the sake of it – there is a backbone and purpose. Going straight for the jugular he tackles political, religious, and provocative topics others just gloss over.

Kaye can eyeball the audience, affront them, question their morals, tell banger joke after banger joke all in the middle of chorus break.

He and his incredible musical director and pianist, Shanon Whitelock manage to make the somewhat scripted show seem so impulsive and unpremeditated, which is the driver for a live and intimate evening.

His delivery of ‘Sailor Boys’ by Charles Aznavour was searing – he began straddling a willing audience member, stealing a drink to gargle, I honestly felt like I was at a drunken family gathering – very live and very intimate! This type of show is not for the faint hearted, easily offended or those without a sense of humour. Not only a celebrated host, but an impeccable storyteller – a true Cabaret star.

With quotes such as ‘I’m vegan, but eat veal, cos I’m pro-choice’ or ‘I’ve got cold sores older than these gags and gags older than these cold sores’, Kaye had the audience lapping up every single word.

While singing his version of Carole King’s ‘Will You Still Love Me’ we were treated to his spectacular and exquisite vocal range, before hearing of his lockdown story involving Disney and TikTok.

His little chat about the higher powers lead to his soulful and gospel interpretation of Randy Newman’s ‘God’s Song’, where he divulged some social media comments, which led to his mic drop moment of replying to a fanatical keyboard warrior with ‘if he’s washing my heart white, he’s far too deep’.

Absolute gold.

But the finale of ‘Without You’ by Harry Nilsson, coupled with a dramatically hilarious story of Nilsson at every verse and a crescendo of a chorus really justified the standing ovation for this extraordinarily wicked, gut-wrenchingly funny, and gloriously camp sensation of a cabaret star.

5 stars


Lia Loves.


Lia Loves
Lia Loves
Theatre. Dance. Culture. Events. Follow her adventures as Adelaide's premier theatre buff, arts contributor, educator and ambassador!

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