He’s a Helpmann nominated cabaret performer, been smashing it over in London, sold out shows at Edinburgh, Adelaide and Perth Fringe Festivals and now he lights up Chapel Off Chapel’s Loft as part of Provocaré Festival, Reuben Kaye has been described as “The evil love child of Liza Minnelli and Jim Carrey is a dazzling explosion of songs, lashes and teeth!” and he does not disappoint this description.
Clad in the most divine collection of glitzy coats I’ve ever seen (please tell me when I can get them all), lashes for days and a wicked but charming smile, his beautiful, almost operatic and classically theatrical tenor voice is almost too big for the venue, as it rips from rock and roll and grunge to a buttery, rounded jazzy style.
The band, so kindly named ‘The K Holes’ (later changed to ‘The Cum Guzzlers #neverforget), lead by Shannon Whitelock non-stop interact with the flamboyant performer, are punished by him and keep up with him every step of the way. Their piano, bass and percussion are never out of time and are so good that Kaye often turns around to them, mid song, mid performance to compliment how well that worked, almost out of sassy surprise and delight.
He is not a fan of his square, black box venue and isn’t afraid to say it, or jump into the lap of Provocaré Festival director, make jokes that other more “PC” artists wouldn’t go near, or trash his time as a Melbourne boy at Balwyn High. He shares the highs and lows of his life in a way that keeps the rollercoaster of a show flowing, the laughs going but the punches don’t stop throwing. There is an odd moment of the audience lapping up every minute of a highly sexualised description of a 15 year old boy, but it’s much more of a testament of Kaye’s storytelling ability to take you back in time to his puberty, than an awkward feeling.
He has previously said that cabaret is what punk would have been if it had of come before electric music, and it’s that energy of punk, anarchy, no rules but his own that gives the show a sensationally naughty feel, which he points out to the “Tuesday night South Yarra cabaret crowd” and asks them to let loose and get in the gutter with him like a hens night on the Gold Coast.
Refusing to conform to any type of performance norms, his unending energy propels him immediately into the audience and up and down the stairs, far beyond where the lights dare to brighten and deep into the darkest depths of our dirty humour.
His words are intelligent and sound almost like literature as he switches between his stories in beautiful flowing prose, to crass and cutting gay jokes, and bouncing to every limit in between and smashing them to pieces. This is not a child friendly show, but god it is an escape into a funny, glittery world guaranteed to brighten your night and give you a belly ache from laugh out loud cackles. Just don’t laugh too hard, or he’ll single you out as one of the witches from the start of Macbeth.
Stand out numbers being Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, his rendition of Iggy Azeala’s ‘Fancy’ featuring the cheekiest snippet of Natalie Imbrugilia’s famous cover of ‘Torn’, and so much more. He lovingly introduces his parents and creative inspirations, rips into stereotypes of gays (and also fulfils them where he chooses to), makes razor sharp political commentary about Brexit, and the state of UK and Australian politics, and pushes the boundaries, invokes debate and helps the audience shed their winter blues, exactly as Provocare Festival intends to do so. Combined with the masked drummers you’ll find wandering the streets and outside the venue, and the fire towers shooting from near Chapel Off Chapel, the festival and this show are sure to intrigue and shatter expectations.
The lighting isn’t always where it is supposed to be, but this is more of a passive aggressive gag between Kaye’s attention seeking nature and his cheeky tech, and the fact that no lights can keep up with the hyperactive child who was told he could be whatever he wanted to be, so he became this piece of fabulosity.
You will be gagging for his glitter, glam and unending sass, so grab a drink or five, and don’t miss your chance to see this divine Helpmann nominated performer before he, his show and his ego blow up any bigger and he heads back across the pond. Get your tickets, and more info top a night of filthy fabulous fun: https://chapeloffchapel.com.au/show/provocare-presents-reuben-kaye/