🎭 Reuben Kaye: The Butch is Back
📍Purcell Room, Southbank Centre
🎟️ PR invite

Reuben Kaye: The Butch is Back at Southbank Centre is a cabaret stand-up comedy extravaganza that takes audiences on a journey through the life of this Australian sensation.

Through a blend of song, adult jokes and witty one-liners, Reuben shares the story of his upbringing as a young queer boy in Melbourne in this comedy performance. We also have an exploration of the nuanced relationships between father and sons. 

Dubbed the Christopher Nolan of Cabaret, we are treated to exciting renditions of popular songs from The Rolling Stones, Geri Halliwell and Stormzy, sung wonderfully by Reuben. The bold use of lighting design creates a captivating atmosphere during the show. Those striking hues of red emphasise Reuben’s statement entrance as enters the stage, in a Marie Antoinette-inspired costume. 

 ‘The Butch is Back’ takes us through various timelines of Reuben’s life. There is a myriad of adult content throughout, and even audience interaction, some of which was improvised and flowed well with the show.  

Photo by Holly Jackson

Reuben’s quick-wit and great comic timing shine throughout Act 1, with fast-paced jokes about British politics and the monarchy. I initially struggled with the lack of linear structure in the first act, while Act 2 felt more cohesive. The show delves into relationships between fathers and sons, portraying Reuben’s journey from childhood to cabaret stardom. Reuben also acknowledges growing up queer and being a drag act.

Backed by a fantastic band led by musical director, Shannon D.Whitelock, the show seamlessly blends jazz, soul, and rock, which I adored. Kaye’s vocals and musical versatility were a standout and I couldn’t wait to hear more! Amidst the adult jokes and occasional audience interaction, I found that the music did incredibly well in enhancing the storytelling.

The show had a good balance between humour and serious moments, particularly in the second act as the show reveals vulnerable moments drawn from Reuben’s personal experiences. The honesty and authenticity displayed by Reuben, particularly in the childhood stories and memories of his father, contribute to a mesmerising performance. 

While I think the show could benefit from being one act, the humour, raw emotion, glamorous outfits and Reuben’s natural stage presence, makes ‘The Butch is Back’ a must-see.

Reuben Kaye: The Butch is Back is playing at Southbank Centre until 30 December 2023!