Review By Tatum Stafford
If you see one performer at this year’s Perth Fringeworld, make it Reuben Kaye.
This flamboyant, whip-smart performer had the audience in the palm of his hand the minute we poured into the Rechabite Hall for Saturday night’s sold out performance. After surveying and strutting around the room for a few minutes, he sauntered onto the stage and gave a hilarious housekeeping monologue that set the tone for the campy, filthy and captivating show we were about to see.
Reuben’s reputation in Perth proceeds him – particularly thanks to his star turn in Club Swizzle a few Fringe Festivals ago. As he launched into his introductory song, I immediately felt immense gratitude that a performer of his calibre is here to grace our Fringeworld, and that many Perth Fringegoers would have the opportunity to widen their viewpoints about queer identity, gender constructs, and the overall LGBTQI+ experience in 2021.
Dressed in a suit with sheer top, feathery fake lashes, sky-high black boots and holding a microphone with a tail that resembles a horse’s, Reuben is the perfect person to deliver this message with flair, sass and an exuberant stage presence.
Reuben is star quality personified. From his witty, snappy remarks to his glorious voice, he presents an immersive cabaret experience that is a joy to watch. Above all, it seems he is having as much fun as his audience; breaking down the barriers between us and ensuring that everyone is able to laugh, tap their toes and bop along to his vibrant setlist without fear of judgement or insecurity.
Though the start of the show was packed with a joke a minute, one of the most touching moments came when Reuben explored his relationship with his parents – in particular, with his father. He shared his coming out story, and was generously descriptive about the emotions and feelings that plagued him during this difficult time in his life (when he was also a “punching bag” for kids at school). It was incredibly moving to hear his story, and to see a man so extroverted dip into vulnerability and explore some incredibly painful and difficult emotions. I’m hopeful it will serve as powerful inspiration for any parents in the audience who are going through (or are soon to go through) similar experiences with their own children.
Ever the showman, Reuben concluded the show with a bang in the form of a humorous anecdote-turned-song about shopping for women’s shoes as a cis-gendered male. It was the perfect way to close out such a culturally-aware show, as it further served his aims to educate the Perth crowd about gender and how irrelevant it can be when assigned to inanimate objects.
Tickets to Reuben’s Perth run are selling fast – so if you have a chance to get your hands on one, don’t delay. This electrifying performance sets the bar for Fringe cabaret extremely high, and is sure to be a show Perth Fringegoers are talking about for some time to come.