If you want to discover – or further explore – cabaret, you couldn’t do better than to start with Reuben Kaye. Appearing through a mystical, smoke-filled doorway in a costume to absolutely die for, this man oozes cabaret from every orifice.
This man oozes cabaret from every orifice
In The Butch Is Back, Reuben treats the audience to a range of full-on cabaret tunes, quasi-stand up routines and anecdotes that provoke the whole gamut of emotions. His every expression, intonation and inflection delivered meticulously, Reuben is a true master of his art form.
During this hour, expect to learn about Reuben’s Jewish roots and relationship with his family, on top of traditionally outlandish insights into his sexuality, intercut with original songs and reworkings of hits by The Cure, Rolling Stones and Stormzy. The show is frequently funny and occasionally hilarious, though potential laughs are occasionally lost, juxtaposed against some of the heavier material.
The audience is clearly enamoured with Reuben, giving strong reactions throughout and a standing ovation at the end. He crafts a personal connection with us, though, his performance feels somewhat autopiloted, as Reuben is more capable of tailoring his delivery and ad libs to a live environment than he proved today. At times, the pacing and musical numbers lack the gravitas he has delivered in the past and the only real killer song is saved for the finale.
Equally at home being self-deprecating, audience-deprecating an excellent-supporting-band-deprecating, Reuben is without doubt a five-star performer. However, one can’t shake the feeling that this particular show lacks the depth and consistency of his potential. Don’t let that put you off though, this is cabaret near, if not quite at, its finest.