The Last Tango

at the Phoenix Theatre, London

 

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have brought Argentine Tango to the UK with a vengeance; their previous two shows Midnight Tango and Dance ’til Dawn played to packed houses on tour and in the West End. With The Last Tango, after their final tour now running at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End, they have brought something truly unique to the theatre. The Last Tango isn’t so much a tangofest as a tribute to dance styles over the years. It tells the story of a young couple (Vincent and Flavia of course) through the memories of an elderly man, George, going through treasures in his attic. Teddy Kempner as this dear old chap was hardly recognisable as the ebullient Hollywood character he played as the narrator of Dance ’til Dawn, both roles totally convincing. Dermot Canavan takes over the role of George from October 4th.

The supporting dancers, who perform fantastic routines in every scene, portray individual characters rather than just an ensemble. Vincent and Flavia are in the centre of  a love story, as George and Mrs George (no characters named in the programme) taking us through World War Two and onwards to their 40th wedding anniversary and beyond. A glorious mixture of dance styles from jive to milonga is accompanied by a wonderful selection of music of the era, from Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy to the theme from Schindler’s List. Played by a superb company of musicians, live in the pit, under the direction of Jon Ranger, with Oliver Darley’s vocals just right for the period. Choreography by Karen Bruce (co choreographers Flavia and Vincent) was some of the best I have seen in the theatre.

Which brings us to the centrepiece of Vincent and Flavia, there in the middle telling their own story,  joining in all dance styles, with a spectacular flamenco by Flavia. Finally, after the company calls, Vincent and Flavia gave their inimitable Last Tango to a standing ovation. I make no apologies for my superlatives, this is a great show. Jean Rush. Photo: Manuel Harlan

The Last Tango runs at the Phoenix Theatre until December 3rd 2016