The Last Tango – New Theatre, Oxford

Director &Co-choreographer: Karen Bruce
Choreographers: Karen Bruce, Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone
Reviewer: Bethaney Rimmer

It won’t be long before Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens and suddenly all everyone can think about is just how many sequins did they fit onto that tiny cha-cha-cha outfit, but in the meantime fans of the show can enjoy a brilliant night out with the nation’s favourite firecrackers and Argentine Tango world champions, Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace in The Last Tango, billed as their final theatre tour together. The duo was last seen in Dance ‘Til Dawn, a glamorous Hollywood-style experience; this time it’s all about the nostalgia, celebrating the pivotal and special moments in a couple’s life.

Morgan Large’s clever set takes the shape of an attic filled with memorabilia that suggests a fulfilled and happy family life, framed by pictures that double up as lanterns creating a warm, homey feeling. Up pops George (Teddy Kempner), a sweet elderly man, who carefully rummages through all the possessions such as a rocking horse, piano, and Christmas tree, each one bringing back a specific memory of his younger self, played by Simone, and the love of his life, Cacace. Kempner has an enviable role in this show, sitting on a raised platform and watching the stunning dances below for the majority of the time, but he does it well, serving as a narrator of sorts between each flashback. The story is a simple one, and spans from love at first sight through to engagement, babies, birthdays, war, and a couple of emotional goodbyes.

Along with director and co-choreographer, Karen Bruce, Simone, and Cacace have once again created sublime dances that cover a range of ballroom and latin styles, including quickstep, jive, foxtrot, cha cha, and of course the dance that is synonymous with this duo, the Argentine tango. The pair have been dancing together for twenty years and their chemistry is undeniable. When watching their impossibly fast footwork it is hard to believe that somebody had to choreograph it step-by-step it is so intricate and complex, yet they perform it with such ease and dexterity; it is plain to see how they have found such success.

The talented ensemble dancers are mesmerising during their ballroom numbers and heaps of fun to watch in the latin pieces, and they create some beautiful formations that fill the whole stage. They are occasionally out of sync with each other, particularly in a couple of the earlier dances, but this is only a minor thing that is easily overshadowed by the quality of the show as a whole. Those that have seen the previous shows may feel that the numbers are not quite as sizzling as in Dance ‘Til Dawn, but having said that the theming is very different between the two; The Last Tango lends itself more to a sentimental, intimate feel rather than a punchy thriller.

The accompanying music is also superb and performed by a live band; there are a couple of songs such as Mr Pinstripe Suit that Strictly fans will instantly recognise and audiences can also expect toe-tapping tunes, emotive numbers and fiery tarantellas. Matthew Gent is the main singer with a stunning voice that oozes charm and sophistication as does the female vocalist Rebecca Lisewski. She demonstrates great talent as she dances with huge amounts of energy and then starts to sing in the middle of the number with power and without dropping a note.

Vicky Gill’s costumes are a highlight; obviously, the long sequined gowns are sensational, but even the simpler outfits make a big impact as the dancers swirl around on stage.

This is a very high-quality show all round and the standing ovation at the end of this performance was wholly deserved. Here’s hoping that sometime in the future the pair change their minds about this being their last ever tour because they will be sorely missed.

Runs until 9 July 2016 |Image: Manuel Harlan

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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