Reviewed at Edinburgh Playhouse
Guest reviewer: Hugh Simpson
Beautifully danced and packing considerable emotional punch, The Last Tango, on tour to July 2016, is a genuine crowd-pleaser.
This is billed as the final tour in the 20-year professional partnership of Strictly Come Dancing favourites Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace. Thanks to the success of Strictly, millions will know Vincent and Flavia as specialists in what is known in dance circles as the Argentine tango (as opposed to the ballroom dance derived from it), and will recognise the interlocking turns and leg flicks that characterise the dance.
While these performances, often executed at dizzying speed, are what most of the pair’s obviously huge following have come to see, a wide variety of dance styles is on display.
The show is framed by the story of an older man (Teddy Kempner) clearing out his attic. He discovers items that lead him into reminiscences, played out through dance, of his younger self (Simone) and his relationship with the love of his life, played by Cacace.
In truth, it’s a rather sketchy story, with a sequence of events that does not bear much examination. It might have been better had the few lines of dialogue that do appear been removed – although it seems guileless, the love story is cleverly told, with the progress of the couple’s relationship signified by some neat theatrical touches.
Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace – The Last Tango Photo Manuel Harlan
The evening is designed for maximum emotional impact, and the two leads manage to communicate a great deal without saying anything. As a farewell performance, it is decidedly wistful and melancholy at times, with unashamedly sentimental moments predominating – such as a movingly romantic goodbye at the end of the first half, or a bittersweet routine to Autumn Leaves.
The latter is excellently sung by Matthew Gent, who provides vocals for several numbers, and is particularly strong on 40s and 50s standards. Much of the music comes from this period, with the ensembles evoking Golden Age Hollywood.
The choreography – by Simone and Cacace with director Karen Bruce – is strong on both the romantic numbers and the peppy, uptempo songs that often feature second vocalist Rebecca Lisewski. The effectiveness of these is considerably enhanced by Steve Geere’s indefatigable band, Vicky Gill’s marvellous costumes and Morgan Large’s evocative set.
Morgan Large’s evocative set. Photo Manuel Harlan
The structure of the show may not be perfect – and it is a shame that there is comparatively little chance for Simone to adopt the clown-like persona he has shown himself capable of – but there cannot be any criticism of the stamina or emotional content of the dancing.
Some comparable performers have padded out their live shows with lame sketches or audience Q and As. This, however, is another proper full-length production, well deserving of the wholehearted reception it received.
Running time 1 hour 50 minutes (including one interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA
Thursday 7 – Saturday 9 April 2016
Daily: 7.30pm; Matinee Sat: 2.30pm.
Full details and tickets on the Playhouse website: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-last-tango/edinburgh-playhouse/
The Last Tango on tour 2016:
Thu 7 – Sat 9 Apr
0844 871 3014
Tue 12 – Sat 16 Apr
Tue 19 – Sat 23 Apr
Mon 25 – Wed 27 Apr
De Montfort Hall
0116 233 3111
Thu 28 – Sat 30 Apr
0845 146 1460
Mon 2 – Sat 7 May
0844 848 2700
Mon 16 – Sat 21 May
Mon 23 – Wed 25 May
0115 989 5555
Thu 26 – Sat 26 May
0024 7655 3055
Tue 31 May – Sat 4 Jun
Eden Court Theatre
01463 234 234
Tue 7 – Sat 11 Jun
Bord Gais Energy Theatre
+353 (1) 677 7999
Mon 13 – Sat 18 Jun
His Majesty’s Theatre
Mon 27 Jun – Sat 2 Jul
The Grand Theatre
01253 290 190
Tue 5 – Wed 6 Jul
Stoke on Trent
0844 871 7649
Thu 7 – Sat 9 Jul
0844 871 3020
Tue 12 – Sat 16 Jul