The Last Tango is the latest show from former Strictly Come Dancing stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace – and, if you believe their website, the very last chance to see them on tour. My attention was caught at once by the tantalising chaos of a life-size house, beautifully arranged around an assortment of belongings which had been clearly hoarded by the main character. And so we find George (Teddy Kempner) emerging into the attic, fighting his way through boxes full of memories.
As the dance drama unfolds we discover that George, played endearingly by Kempner, is in role as the older Vincent Simone – reminiscing about his past life, and his one true love. We see significant clues to that past, coming to life and explaining the relationship as the years tick by, and we witness important episodes in their ever-growing romance and long-term marriage.
Each scene is punctuated by a different song, delivered beautifully every time by Matthew Gent. The musical numbers range enormously, from the theme of Schindler's List to the trademark sound of Glenn Miller. All are used well, building atmospheric routines. Simone and Cacace are flanked by an ensemble of eight performers and give us, amongst many dances, the Jive, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and an exquisite Rumba to the haunting tune of Autumn Leaves.
Sadly however, with a busy set and lots of quick transitions, I found the stage far too crowded. The choreography for the ensemble featured a surfeit of complicated moves; amidst so much content, there was little room for finesse. My understanding of true Tango is all about the relationship between follower and leader, the improvisation and the response. In a performance like this the dancing will of course be fully choreographed, but the illusion of spontaneity was lacking; the routines felt over-staged a lot of the time.
It’s only fair to note that the audience around me seemed to connect with the show more than I did, and it was certainly an enjoyable night for everyone in the crowd. But all in all, I was a little disappointed in a production that promised so much – which is a shame, if it really is Vincent and Flavia's final ever touring Tango show.