Reuben Kaye ApocalipstikThe lights go to black and after a loud, largely unintelligible, voice-over, the drums roll, the curtains open, and there, in a blinding spotlight, stands the always remarkable, REUBEN KAYE. His name is in capitals because that’s how he is… LARGER THAN LIFE.

Immaculately coiffed and remarkably costumed by Kingsley Hall and Tristan Seebohm, each costume a work of art in itself, Kaye pauses just long enough to allow the gasps to subside, before launching into a tirade of outrageous, wicked and witty pronouncements, daring his audience to be offended as they collapse into paroxysms of laughter.

Luxuriating in his unapologetic campery Kaye deliberately courts controversy. No subject is out of bounds, be it communism, capitalism, planned obsolescence, fashion, marriage, or sexuality… especially sexuality.

A skilled raconteur, Kaye’s script is perfectly crafted, his storytelling masterful and his brilliantly timed asides devastating as he tantalises his audience with outrageous stories about his Jewish family and his childhood upbringing in Melbourne.

According to Kaye, his father was a painter and sculptor; his mother a dancer and filmmaker; and his grandmother, a Collins Street couturier. But it is his favourite Uncle Helmut who is the focus for most of Apocalipstik and for whom Kaye reserves his unfettered admiration.

It turns out that besides being a musician and clown at children’s parties, Uncle Helmut had a side hustle as a bank robber and pornographer. It was Uncle Helmut, Kaye claims, who inspired Kaye to live a life of unfettered decadence. A lifestyle he enthusiastically recommends to his audience.

Believe what you like, it doesn’t matter, for Kaye has the knack of having the audience hang on his every word, waiting for his next outrageous utterance. Featured throughout the show are several clever songs written by Kaye and his musical director Shanon D. Whitelock which allow Kaye to show off his impressive vocals.

An excellent quartet consisting of Whitelock on keyboards, Alana Dawes on Bass, John McDermott on Drums and Willow Fearns on Guitar, not only provide excellent accompaniment, but also contribute atmospheric sound effects on cue, and give the impression that they too are as surprised as the audience by Kaye’s off-script remarks.

Also integral to the show is  long-suffering Stage Manager, Moose, who does her best to be invisible while  efficiently clearing the stage of  discarded costuming and props, even rescuing an awkward moment when a costume malfunction threatened to bring the star undone.

Reluctant to let his audience escape, Kaye greets them in the foyer after the show happy to chat and pose for selfies.

Reuben Kaye is a one of a kind showman who lives to entertain. Apocalipstik captures him at his best.

The Playhouse – Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, Canberra
Performance: Friday 26 April 2024

Reuben Kaye will present Apocalipstik at The Princess Theatre from 9 – 12 May, as part of the 2024 Brisbane Comedy Festival. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Reuben Kaye (supplied)

Review: Bill Stephens OAM