Review: Reuben Kaye Live at The Wonderland Spiegeltent

Review By Matthew Hocter


In a world that has become ever so sensitive about any and everything, it is refreshing to see comedic genius put on display that isn’t afraid to go where, let’s be honest, most of our minds go to at some point or another: the gutter. If you are in possession of a faint heart or are easily offended, Reuben Kaye and his brand of quick, sharp and all too often acerbic wit will most definitely not be your thing and that is totally fine. However, if you are in possession of slightly messy and debauched sense of humour and are after non-stop one liners, then Reuben Kaye most definitely is the one for you.


As Kaye made his grand entrance complete with an over exaggerated train that even the 18th century bourgeois would be in awe of, it was abundantly clear that subtlety is not something Kaye has ever heard of and probably never wants to. As he saunters around the stage, almost as if he is marking every inch of it, he barely takes a breath as delivers one liner’s, taking aim at everything from religion to politics, one after the other that would have left even the legendary Joan Rivers gasping for air. It is this showmanship that instantly strikes me as something of a bygone era. An era where artists like Rivers and the multi-talented Bette Midler incorporated music, glitz, glamour and the most delicious form of thought provoking (sometimes offensive) wit, all things that have become increasingly rare over the last couple of decades. Kaye truly is walking in their shoes and his divinity knows no bounds.


Given that the show was already nearly twenty minutes in and the energy so electric it could have lit up an entire city, Kaye decided that it was time we “get on with the show.” Backed by his band the Kaye Holes, Kaye launched into a mashup of The Stones, Leonard Cohen and Janelle Monae, providing a welcome break for some in the audience that were desperately trying to keep up with Kaye’s indominable take on wordplay and puns. Whilst Kayes wit is shrouded in intelligence, a dash of filth and a whole lot of sass, there is an intricate and delicate beauty to Kaye that was put on full display as he showed his vulnerability when speaking of his Father.


The ability that Kaye has to switch from the most extreme of emotions and all in what seems like the blink of an eye, is nothing short of miraculous. As he moved to the edge of the stage and sat down, that acerbic wit and charisma took a backseat to the unguarded artist that was now before us. As he spoke of his Father whose gentle brush strokes on a blank canvas were brought to life in song, the concept of painting a portrait of a man was the unspoken conversation that so many boys never have with their Fathers. This incredibly touching moment was steeped in emotion and yet again proved that diversity is not only something that Kaye champions, but is also something he embodies.


“Shocking” is something that one could easily associate with Kaye and anyone who knows his work would smirk in agreement. The theatrics applied to this show were beautifully unexpected and yet totally in line with everything that was on show. Kaye’s power is in his art, art that not only challenges societies constraints on pretty much every level, but also asks us to laugh with him. This is cabaret in its purest, most unadulterated form and for that, Kaye gave this year's Fringe festival one of its finest moments.

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