I first saw Reuben Kaye perform at Butterfly Club about three years ago when I relocated from London to Melbourne. It was a bittersweet time, I was homesick for London but happy to have found a home in the wonderful winter of Melbourne. At the time Kayes’ show was just what the doctor ordered, the best of both worlds, Fabulous (with a capital F) London affectations in larger than life Cabaret performed in the intimate setting of a small cosy Australian theatre. Kaye’s show Plugged demonstrates again his ability to straddle two worlds, that of the harsh reality of being a genteel, slightly effeminate teen in a brutish Australian high school setting told from the stage of The Butterfly Club in all the fabulous, sequinned, unabashed glory that he is now.
From the get go, Kaye took quite a shining to my cherub faced companion for the evening, teasing him mercilessly and severely mistaking my friend’s apparent appearance of innocence for ignorance when he is in fact a young opera singer and director of some acclaim internationally. It was an additional layer of comedy for us that Kayes’ often obscure references to music and literature were understood by us even while he pointedly explained to my companion the difference between Bernini and Panini and that incarnadine meant to make things red, to which my companion made the aside that perhaps he needed to learn a new word for ‘to make red and glittery’ describing Kayes lips. The costumes and makeup were wonderfully hypnotic.
While the story line was a little haphazard the show was consistently amusing, I didn’t stop grinning the whole time. Much of our amusement was from watching Kaye frankly find himself so entertaining. Whether or not we enjoyed the show, he didn’t care, he was there to have fun, and so we all did. He started the show by introducing and expressing his gratitude to his onstage team of pianist and sound guy, demonstrating that while he may go on to offend it was all with the best of intentions. Kaye is an extraordinarily captivating story teller and embodies the concept of giving a performance 110%. My attention didn’t waver once because he never allowed the energy to drop and was completely in control of the audience. Politically correct, Kaye is not, but he is certainly very entertaining.
Emmanuella is a voice and performance coach and singer. She loves cats, singing, pasta, and going to bed at 10pm.
‘Reuben Kaye: Plugged!’ is playing until 17th April at The Butterfly Club.
Check out our guide to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for more great shows.