Sometimes you just happen to stumble across a show, or a performer, that leaves you completely speechless, such as this show, Reuben Kaye’s deliverance is of the highest calibre, he is a true entertainer. Unashamedly queer and in oh so in you face, Plugged, is a blistering cabaret, delivered with bullet like precision, with lashing of attitude thrown into the mix. This show is not just good, it is great.
As both Kaye and audience embark on this journey, beginning to peel back the layers of the slick little number, you find yourself, at the core, staring at an uncomfortable truth, that is as beautiful as it both painful and raw. It’s almost a coming of age story, almost a celebration, but yet it doesn’t try to be defined as either, perhaps because it doesn’t need to be. Kaye wears his heart on his sleeve, and endears himself to the audience in a way that not many others performers ever seem able, in fact place this material in the hands of any other performer and it just wouldn’t be done justice.
Channelling more than a little of Terence Stamps Bernadette from Priscilla Queen of The Desert through his attitude, his humour and his craft, the show oozes a special kind of nonchalance, a “seen it all be before and done it twice over” attitude. Yes we have all seen shows that work with the material dealt with in Plugged, but here Kaye has managed to reinvent the wheel. It’s sassy, confident and genuine. Choosing to not only interact with the audience, but making them a central mechanism to the show from beginning to end.
At one point attention shifted completely, as he grabbed the phone out of the hands of an audience members mid-show only then to do something completely questionable, tossing it back he proclaims “You’ll practically have to boil it to get rid of the syphilis now” yes – Plugged is that kind of show.
The musicality should not be overlooked, beautifully crafted, it uses such iconic pop songs from the likes of Celine Dion, Natalie Imbruglia and Iggy Azalea, in ways that are as compelling as the narrative. He works within the limitations of The Butterfly Club, it’s small size and limited lighting as two example, to full advantage, more than once bringing these elements into the work, he does not only work the room, he owns it, site specificity like this really makes an impact on a work, in some ways it helps open it up.
We need more of this brilliance, but we also need to do more to support it, this show, though presented fittingly, within Melbourne International Comedy Festival, it would be a shining inclusion in any number of queer festivals line ups around the country, and is certainly deserving of a return season Plugged has finished its season.