Cabaret veteran Reuben Kaye has returned to Adelaide to receive his annual Fringe flowers, with a new show in tow poking fun at politics and capitalism.

At this point he’s got little left to prove, having become a staple act for the month-and-a-half extravaganza and also, in 2022, an ambassador for the arts festival. There’s no doubt that he’s talented: he has an impressive voice, a gorgeous smile and looks for days.

That makes his new show, APOCALIPSTIK, all the more enticing.

Kaye is an unstoppable force for the duration of the performance – an 80-minute show – rattling off one-liners faster than this reviewer could jot them down. It’s jam-packed with campy wit and confidence that could stop a tiger in its tracks.

The show is deeply cynical but always funny, and his disdain for the state of the world is made clear right from the get-go. Reuben is mad, and rightly so: the world’s falling apart.

Climate change, war, plague and incomprehensibly selfish leaders are the zeitgeist, reflected savagely by Kaye, who never slows down, strutting gloriously across the Vagabond stage at the Garden of Unearthly Delights.

But this is not a show about the state of the world; rather, it’s about Reuben’s uncle. To explain that sentence would be to spoil the insane real-life tale told by the performer, who finds hope and radiance in the story of his distant uncle, once a prisoner who lived most of his life in East Germany.

While the show’s first half focuses on everything wrong with the world, the audience quickly moves with Kaye, who shows us that even though society and the planet are crumbling in real time, there’s still plenty to live for. Rob a bank, live luxuriously, travel and film questionable content, as Kaye’s uncle would… he traverses all of this in a cabaret showstopper that’s half-scripted stand-up comedy and half original tunes.

APOCALIPSTIK would be perfect, if not for some of the politically-inclined jokes feeling like a Twitter feed. There’s depth to some of the humour, but this reviewer found plenty felt surface level.

Then again, this is a Fringe show and not a manifesto – we’re not attending to be lectured, we’re here to laugh. And laugh we did.

APOCALIPSTIK is playing at the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 17. Kaye is also presenting his late-night show The Kaye Hole in the Garden until March 16.

Read more 2024 Adelaide Fringe coverage here on InReview.

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