REVIEW: THE LAST TANGO (New Wimbledon Theatre)

Strictly Come Dancing professionals turned stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace shake their sequins and dancing shoes for their final show “The Last Tango”. After twenty years of dancing together and touring with popular West End productions, the world champions of Argentine Tango are ready to say goodbye to the stage.

In stark contrast to the dancing steps and expertise, the narrative is simple: An old “Vincent” (Teddy Kempner) sorts through bits and bobs in his dusty attic, and each newly found item takes him down a trip on memory lane. He remembers how he met and fell in love with his wife, taking the audience through the entire love story and its emotional highlights. While Teddy Kempner sits elevated on the stage, he looks upon his “memories” as portrayed by Vincent and Flavia on the lower part of the stage – often surrounded by their storyline friends (the Ensemble dancers).

Besides Kempner’s huffing and humming (and the occasional shouting from his “son”), there is no spoken dialogue, but the musical numbers as sung by Matthew Gent and Rebecca Lisewsk, and the extravagant dance numbers make it more then clear enough what the plot is all about.

The narrative is so plain that the ending can be predicted miles away – which is a shame but not what the (incredibly enthusiastic) audience comes to see.

Vincent and Flavia are undoubtedly masters of their art and captivate with flawless form. Vincent effortlessly charms the audience from the moment he steps on stage, while Flavia floats around him in ethereal beauty as if gravity did not apply to her.

Beauty is the keyword of this masterfully executed performance that sees experts in all their respective fields: not only the dancers are highly talented, but the singers and live orchestra are exceptional in playing their well-known tunes such as Beyond the Sea, Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, and Straighten Up and Fly Right. Especially the Jive numbers when the larger and also stunningly talented ensemble are joyful and brimming with energy. Set in the pre-war and 40’s era, costume designer Vicky Gill creates a fashion journey of smooth flowing fabrics.

Lighting and set design by James Whiteside and Morgan Large complement each other in an ambiance of a romantic, nostalgic glow – both in the present narrative of the stuffy attic, and the danced flashbacks, framed by softly gleaming old-fashioned pictures.

“The Last Tango” is on for a limited run at the Wimbledon Theatre in London until February 20, before continuing on its UK tour. If not for its entire sensational showmanship, the breath-taking footwork in its own final Tango number is worth a view – and was rewarded by standing ovations.

Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent
Photo: Manuel Harlan

The Last Tango is playing at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 20 February 2016 and then on tour around the UK until July. Tickets and dates here