Reuben Kaye: The Butch is Back


Southbank Centre

REUBEN KAYE: THE BUTCH IS BACK at the Southbank Centre


“a raucous, raunchy call to arms about the state of the world”

Reuben Kaye – the Australian drag artist famed for the Edinburgh Fringe staple: The Kaye Hole, is at the Southbank Centre this December for a bigger and better taste of his particular brand of irreverent, over the top, super-charged drag comedy.

Reuben Kaye is a force of nature and his whirlwind style of drag sensation is a tour de force.

Kaye, accompanied by a live band, tells the story of his coming out, through a mix of stand-up comedy, biting social commentary, spoken work performance, and belting musical numbers. This show is the epitome of cabaret at its best.

This is an unmissable show for all lovers of drag and cabaret, as well as the unashamedly bizarre and offbeat. The messages of unity and acceptance are nothing new, but they are so well sold by Kaye’s charisma and stage presence that the show feels part gig and part political rally. There are solid gags throughout, and the show never feels preachy. Instead, it is a raucous, raunchy call to arms about the state of the world.

It’s not perfect. Kaye makes a joke at one point, pointing out that the show was an hour, then 90 minutes, and is now nearer two hours. This stretching does show a little, as some moments lag, and parts feel a little padded. However, most of the time the sheer force of Kaye’s stage presence keeps the show moving and the energy soaring.

The show is a slick, well-oiled machine, even managing to play with the audience by pretending there are technical issues. Whether there really were or not, the performance never slips and the audience were roaring and cheering right along with Kaye himself.

The show is an emotional rollercoaster, but the sharp tone changes are well crafted, and the story follows a genuinely powerful journey about finding your identity in a world which is not always kind. Also, the tunes are all absolute bangers.

REUBEN KAYE: THE BUTCH IS BACK at the Southbank Centre

Reviewed on 13th December 2023

by Auriol Reddaway

Photography by Holly Jackson



Previously reviewed at this venue:

Nutcracker | ★★★★★ | November 2023

Reuben Kaye

Reuben Kaye

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