Vincent Simone & Flavia Cacace: The Last Tango

Dance
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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The 'Strictly Come Dancing' stars promise this will be their last show – we'll be holding them to that

Argentine tango fans be warned – you may feel shortchanged by ‘The Last Tango’, the third and allegedly final big touring show from ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace. Frankly, there’s not an awful lot of tango in it. Brand Vincent & Flavia was built on the smouldering Latin dance form but in their own productions they’ve increasingly tried to move away from ‘bar in Buenos Aires’ clichés, even though that has involved diluting the tango element of their choreography (created by the pair and Karen Bruce). ‘Dance ‘Til Dawn’, their last show, was a film noir pastiche that ended up being a hectic amalgam of dance display and comedy musical, with all sorts of ballroom styles thrown in.

This time, we start off in an old man’s attic. The actor Teddy Kempner potters about amid the accumulated junk, making lame jokes, and starts to reminisce. Cue Simone as his younger self in the late 1930s, wooing and winning Cacace, only to be called up to fight in the war.

The soundtrack to this romance consists of obvious standards, but singer Oliver Darley brings a warm, nicely understated quality to them. The limitations of Morgan Large’s set design, however, are soon apparent; the attic junk stays put, so the ensemble dancers end up with too cramped a space for the group numbers – particularly the lively Charleston and jive routines. An American smooth number looks increasingly rough as the couples struggle not to bump into each other. Even Simone and Cacace, in their duet, can’t get enough rise and fall in their waltz steps thanks to the obstacle course of props and scenery around them.  

The tango routines that are included seem shoehorned into the narrative flow but build in intensity; the newly dating couple offer a subdued, innocent duet, the couple reunited after the war have more urgency and propelling passion in their encounter. Cacace’s footwork is beautifully precise, her embellishments a subtle reminder of how a partner dance is a conversation between two people. However, trained competition dancers that they are, neither of them manage any facial expression other than a default detached smile, and it’s hard to discern an emotional connection between them.

Cacace throws in an ill-advised attempt at flamenco, the narrative arc veers into tragedy, then we’re into a perky curtain call and Simone and Cacace’s encore tango, involving a dress that leaves little to the imagination, lots of off-axis flashiness and a furiously fast footwork segment that makes the pair look frantic and inelegant. It gets a big cheer, though. 

BY: SIOBHAN MURPHY

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