Enmore Road was buzzing. Not just because it was a crisp Saturday night in mid-winter, but because Reuben Kaye was back and his presence at the glorious Enmore Theatre was highly anticipated by the public and police alike. Many words have been written about Kaye’s appearance on The Project in April, but it was the specific and nasty words sent to Kaye himself over the last few months that had the most effect.
In order to protect him, his fellow comedians and the public, the shows were postponed to a later date, but here we were, reunited with determination, love and bravery to celebrate an artist that has proven to be so much more than a hammed-up controversy.
The sold-out Enmore was proof enough of the support that the singer, comedian and idol has in Sydney. The stage was set and the opening act was glorious. Any nerves were quickly dismissed as Kaye strutted the stage with purpose through the opening 30 minutes of the show. “I’m too thin to be assassinated!” he quipped, in one of many pointed and comedic retorts to the bevy of death threats that have been received over the last few months.
Before appreciating the sensational breadth of the performance, the actual act of being on stage again in the very place that has seen a recent upswing in protest marches from anti-gay groups in the very area where queer people should feel comfortable is something to be admired and it felt like a collaborative strength from the over one and a half thousand patrons.
The show was a mixture of music, song, narrative, comedy and cabaret, but mostly it was a story of humanity, love and honesty. Through the power of song and a shit-hot band, including horns, bass, drums and keys, Kaye told the story of his youth, family and coming out with sensitivity and a killer sense of comic timing.
Yes, Kaye has a habit of singing fast and talking faster, but it’s worth your time to listen. To really listen. Not only will you be entertained, but you learn something about what it’s like to grow up in a world where you are made to feel different, unwanted and strange. By the end of the show, you are there with Kaye celebrating the fact that we’re all really just “squishy holes”.
Self-described as the “Christopher Nolan of Queer cabaret”, the progression of the night is not linear. It jumps between childhood memories, zeitgeist topics, personal trauma and pure punchline goodness and it’s a roller-coaster of emotions from start to finish.
At several points in the show, the entire room was silent. We were entranced and enthralled by the story that Kaye was sharing. Tears welled, breaths held and then, like a released balloon, the pressure valve would release and we’d laugh hard, easing the moment – yes, but never losing the message.
Reuben Kaye is the epitome of an entertainer, but showcased that human fragility is never far from the surface and should be embraced rather than feared. Through the use of songs like The Cure’s “Boy Don’t Cry” and Geri Halliwell’s “Scream If You Wanna Go Faster”, the use of popular music to weave the story was a master-stroke from Kaye and his outstanding musical cohort who never missed a beat throughout a tightly choreographed 90-minute show.
The extended standing ovation was testament to not only a fabulous show but also the fact that we could all breathe a big sigh of relief in knowing that love and acceptance had well and truly triumphed over hate and bigotry.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Reviewer attended on 1st July 2023.
Image Credit: Ashley Mar