Reuben Kaye Is A 24 Karat Cabaret Star

Reuben Kaye, Soho Theatre ★★★★☆

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 39 months ago

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Reuben Kaye Is A 24 Karat Cabaret Star Reuben Kaye, Soho Theatre 4

"I don't know whether to put on a cabaret show, or poison Eva Braun and shoot myself in the head..."

Reuben Kaye is alluding to the leaden basement cabaret bar of Soho Theatre. Certainly, it's no Cafe de Paris, where we last saw Kaye, compering a hauntingly brilliant showcase. His Kander and Ebb-tinged acid tonguery is, of course, all part of the act. The audience (one in particular, nicknamed 'foetus' for the night) are on the end of it too, and love it.   

His Soho Theatre surroundings seem to permeate Kaye's act. In a show that rightly screams me me me there's an emotionally-driven flashback about being outed at school. It's impossible not to hear echoes of Soho stalwarts — Hannah Gadsby, Kieran Hodgson, Richard Gadd — reverberate off the clammy walls. It feels odd in a cabaret context, but maybe that's just us.   

Elsewhere, lashings of uber-fun campery see Kaye rattle off segments of Wuthering Heights, swish a pony-tailed mic into the front row's faces, and perform more costume changes than Lady Gaga. At times — like when he collides with an empty chair, dismissing it as "homophobic" — it's tough to work out if Kaye is immaculately rehearsed, or merely locked and loaded with off-the-cuff comebacks. Both, perhaps.

While the direction of this show is patchy, there is no doubt that in the presence of Ruben Kaye, you are in the presence of a glittering, 24-karat cabaret star.

Reuben Kaye, Soho Theatre, until 16 June, from £16.

Last Updated 07 June 2018