Review: The Last Tango Hits London

Review of The Last Tango: Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace

The cutest professional partnership to come out of Strictly Come Dancing in a dozen years, Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone have actually been dancing together for two decades, since the Italian-born duo met as teenagers in Guildford (which remains their home to this day). Romantically involved for more than half that time, the old flames – who’ve been crowned UK and World Champions several times over – have managed to maintain a pretty impressive working relationship in the face of complications which might have caused a fair bit of accidentally-on-purpose stepping-on-of-toes by lesser mortals. However, they have now proclaimed that this tour will see, both literally and metaphorically, their last tango (at least on stage – Vincent recently revealed the pair’s ambitions to migrate to the big screen). After Nyne’s Samantha Simmonds was invited to Richmond to witness the first London tango of the run.

The Last Tango follows the all-singing, all-dancing formula of the pair’s last production, Dance ’til Dawn – more full-scale musical than mere dance show. Lighter on narrative (and comedy) than the latter’s self-consciously and delightfully silly Old Hollywood crime caper, though, The Last Tango revolves around the memories of an older man clearing out his attic, played out before our eyes through the medium of dance (Vincent portraying his younger self, and Flavia the woman with whom he falls in love). Live singers emerge from cubbyholes in the rather spectacular “attic” set to soundtrack the equally spectacular dance numbers with classic ditties from the canons of Irving Berlin, Glenn Miller and Nat King Cole. Whilst I can’t help feeling that the production’s inherent fromage factor (a fundamental component of previous show Dance ’til Dawn’s tongue-in-cheek charm) somewhat blunts its potential emotional impact, it’s undeniably a toe-tapping, eye-popping feast for the senses. Ballroom, jive and show dance group numbers from an electric ensemble bookend each of Vincent and Flavia’s duets, each more magnificent than the last. Yep, despite the show’s title, there’s far more to it than “just” tango (but don’t worry, Argentine aficionados – you’ll still get your fill of speedy foot flicks from the champs – their final encore is well worth the wait). And the costumes? Dazzling – kudos to Vicky Gill (Strictly’s head costume designer) for getting the sequin and tulle quotas spot-on (it really can’t be that easy to circumnavigate the “Princess Barbie does Sugar Hut” trap when designing for a dance show) and for designing a pencil skirt in which it is possible not only to walk at speed, but to tango, and Argentine style, too – mind blown.

The Last Tango is on at Richmond Theatre until Saturday, before continuing its UK tour. Fan of any of the following: feel-good entertainment; flawless dancing; big band classics; sequins? Then I suggest you check it out.

See the tour dates and book tickets here.

Samantha Simmonds