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Review: Reuben Kaye at the Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

By Regan Baker

In a theatre I have been to many times before, the Brisbane Powerhouse never ceases to amaze me with the quality of performer it draws to our beautiful city. This was the first time, however, that I have been to a cabaret at the Powerhouse and I was surprised to learn that the seating could retract to reveal a wide-open floorplan for true cabaret style seating at round tables. As the audience ushered into the theatre and found their seats, Kaye weaved his way through the tables and met the people he was set to entertain for the next hour and a half.

As showtime rolled around, Kaye made his way back on stage for his big opening, and what an opening it was! Picking fun at the rustic nature of the Powerhouse, Kaye joked about it being almost a theatre and likened it to a poorly ventilated brick prison with amazing production value and brightly lit green emergency exit signs that don’t turn off… for the whole show… even during a blackout.

From the moment he took to the stage you knew it was going to be a night of filthy humour and nonstop laughs, and Kaye did not disappoint on this front. During his welcoming address and housekeeping spiel, Kaye referred to the signs at the front doors forbidding the use of photographic and recording equipment, as well as the courtesy of not leaving during the performance for drinks. “F*** that!” he shouted, “It’s my show and we’ll do whatever the hell we bloody like darlings! Get drinks, get drunk, take photos, videos, whatever the hell you want! We’re here to have fun!” And have fun we did!

With a huge voice and incredible stage presence, Kaye filled the theatre and had every member of the audience in stitches for the full hour and a half performance. In true cabaret style he made his way among the tables and fed off the energy of his audience, involving as many unsuspecting guests as he possibly could. It was incredibly hard to determine how much of the show was planned, and how much of the show was improvised, which is exactly what you want in a cabaret show. Kaye perfectly blended elements of song and performance with audience participation and continued to surprise and delight throughout the evening.

Not only was his performance incredibly witty, but exceptionally intelligent in both the depth of his jokes and their delivery. I’m not afraid to admit that my partner is a fair bit smarter than I and there were several jokes that had multiple layers of pop-culture and intellect to unpack, and I did have to clarify a few things. At no point in time though did this take away from the quality of his performance and in fact, made it that much better. The ability to weave filth humour in between jokes of incredible depth and understanding is a true testament of an incredibly smart performer, and this is true of Kaye.

Every element of his performance was beautifully executed and even the simplest of things like asking the audience to thank the house team, whom he constantly referred to as, “Jacquie and Jacquie’s bitches,” cracked the audience!

Though this was Kaye’s first ever performance in Brisbane I hope it is not his last as he truly brings the definition of modern cabaret to life and is a performer I would gladly pay to see again.

Images Supplied

All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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