Reuben Kaye is a cabaret god; he’ll tell you so himself. Launching himself onto the stage, he’s dressed like a chandelier mated with a Butlin's redcoat (in a good way) with massive eyelashes and ridiculously high heels and he’s come to Edinburgh to cement his place as a superstar.
If there’s any justice in the world, Reuben Kaye will sell out the rest of his run.
Kaye has a powerful voice and each song is ovation-worthy on its own. The simple accompaniment of piano, drums and bass keeps the focus on his voice (you can’t imagine he’d allow the focus to go anywhere else) and his choice of classic covers, reimagined to fit the show are sublime.
Where Kaye shines is in audience interaction; he’s been a compère on the cabaret scene for several years and has honed his skills with the well placed put downs and the flirtatious banter in clubs all across the world. His dealings with the many members of the audience who fall under his gaze bring raucous laughter and Kaye is never afraid to clamber onto a random man and take them to a flirtatiously uncomfortable (but never unwelcome) place. A moment of true Fringe joy occurs when he realises the one of the objects of his attention is only 16 years old and he plays his panicked reaction for even harder laughs. He’s like Liberace on ketamine and he’s got the frills to prove it.
The thing that makes Kaye really stand out is that he’s got the brains to go with the looks. His asides take in Shakespeare, Bronte, Modernist Theatre and Dadaism, and, if he thinks the audience might have missed the reference, he’s delighted to stop and explain. Of course, this is a show about Kaye so there’s some life story in there. He seems a bit of an unreliable narrator but the tale he weaves is engaging, poignant and hilarious but, really, it’s just an aside from the tormenting of the audience and the ever more spectacular costumes.
If there’s any justice in the world, Reuben Kaye will sell out the rest of his run. Make sure you’re one of the lucky few to see him.