‘The Kaye Hole’ was tantalizing.
Stepping into QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre for Reuben Kaye’s ‘The Kaye Hole’ was like stepping back in time to an old burlesque lounge in the back streets of London. Smoke filled the air and gothic chandeliers and candlelight filled the room with a warm yellow glow. Coloured par cans danced around the room and a small bar sat in the corner behind the cabaret tables that filled the lower floor. The atmosphere was tantalizing, the cocktails were flowing, and the audience was itching to get to their seats and for things to get weird – they could not wait!
Reuben Kaye is a dynamite performer in their own right, so put Kaye on stage with six of Brisbane’s best cabaret, burlesque and circus icons and you are sure to be blessed with an evening of incredible entertainment.
“Each of these spectacular Brisbane Artists is the pinnacle in their discipline and each brings their own specific fire,” said Kaye on his collaboration with the artists. “It’s rare to get them all together under one roof. It’s not just the variety of the line-up, it’s the quality of acts here in Brisbane that we wanted to showcase.”
With Kaye’s band, The Preferred Pronouns, behind him, Kaye burst onto the stage donning a weirdly beautiful half cape, half dress statement piece made from garbage bags and a tight black skirt and corset combo. Stunning as always, Kaye’s powerful voice was the perfect opening for what was set to be an evening of risqué entertainment. Kaye’s filthy wit never ceases to delight, and the audience was quickly in stitches at the performers every word. From poking well-deserved fun at our politicians and their mishandling of the Coronavirus pandemic to pulling apart the church’s priorities, every punchline landed with a wave of laughter. Kaye’s charm and humour were just as alluring as their voice though and truly cemented Kaye as being one of the most talented cabaret performers of our generation.
Having the toughest job of the evening following Reuben Kaye, pole dancer extraordinaire Charlie Love had massive shoes to fill, but boy did Love fill them – literally. Walking on stage in what must have been at least 8-inch platform heels, Love dazzled the audience with a brilliant contemporary dance and pole routine to a superb mash-up of two of the biggest hits of my generation: Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me to Life,’ and everyone’s favourite smash hit, ‘Wake Up Jeff,’ by The Wiggles. Not only was Love’s routine highly entertaining, but deeply impressive in the strength, control and balance demonstrated throughout. The combination of light-hearted humour in the musical arrangement, the sensuality of his strip show, and the core strength of the routine were a perfect blend that left the audience gobsmacked.
World-renowned beatbox artist, Hope One, was next on stage and delivered a powerful performance that demonstrated an insane vocal talent and a beautiful heart wrapped in one. It is no surprise that Hope One is a world-renowned artist as their voice filled the theatre through a goosebump-inducing tune that paid tribute to Hope One’s Maori origins. Moving from strength to strength, Gold Coaster Ashleigh Roper took to the skies next in a superbly performed aerial hoop routine that dropped jaws and put hearts in eyes. Aptly nicknamed the “girl with no bones”, Roper is a highly regarded circus performer and her combining of aerial and contortion skills is unlike any I have seen. Roper’s routine was beautifully choreographed and when combined with shivering vocals from Kaye, created a spine-tingling number that won’t soon be forgotten.
Speaking of acts that won’t soon be forgotten, psycho-siren Leah Shelton was the fourth act of the evening, but in stark contrast to Roper, Shelton’s memorability is for all the wrong reasons. Entering the stage dressed as a plastic doll in skin-tight Lycra and large, fake pink lips, Shelton’s performance was essentially just a strip show. Lines could be drawn to connect Shelton’s shedding of the Lycra suit as a message of body image empowerment and that women should be seen as more than just an object of arousal or sexual stimulation, but this is clutching at straws. If that was the intent, then it is an amazing message to portray as the human body is a thing of beauty and absolutely nobody should be looked upon purely as an object for personal gain. The only trouble was that no one would have understood the message as the music was all wrong, and there was no explanation. Without deep analysis, it was a hard message to ascertain and seemed like nudity for nudity’s sake.
Cabaret chanteuse Tina Del Twist was by a mile and a half the standout performance of the six variety acts, combining incredible vocal delight and side-splitting comedy. Draped in purple velvet and carrying a fishbowl of alcohol, Del Twist stumbled onto the stage and had the audience roaring with laughter before a single word came out of their mouth. Del Twist’s hauntingly beautiful voice echoed throughout the space and their drunken comedy was one of the funniest routines to ever hit one of QPAC’s four stages.
Closing out the evening in spectacular fashion, Jacqueline Furey marvelled at audiences with her brilliant fire antics and incredible control over a naked flame. From dragging fire all over her body to swallowing flames and lighting her fingernails and hands-on fire, Furey was astonishing in every element of her performance. Backed by the glorious vocals of Reuben Kaye, you didn’t want to blink in fear of missing any element of her performance, and extinguishing the evening with a breath of fire was a perfect close for an incredible night of cabaret.
‘The Kaye Hole’ performs until Wednesday, 12 January 2022 at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. For more information visit QPAC’s website.