tango head

The Last Tango

Birmingham Hippodrome

*****

ALL good things have to end and in Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace’s case the end is very good indeed with an elegant showcase of their considerable talents.

The pair, who danced to fame on Strictly Come Dancing, complete their trilogy of shows with a quite stunning display of beautiful dancing wrapped around what, at times, is a moving storyline.

When you are young a loft is somewhere you bung stuff outvicent and flavia of sight, out of mind and out of the way but eventually you reach an age where a loft has become your store of memories, your life in battered toys, old photos, clothes that have mysteriously shrunk over time and worthless treasures that are nevertheless priceless.

And that is the setting as the ever reliable Teddy Kempner plays George, a man with his best years behind him, who climbs into his loft and loses himself, happily, in his memories which we see re-enacted on the stage below him.

Kempner added both humour and a very endearing character as the bartender in Vincent and Flavia’s first theatrical venture, Midnight Tango, set in a Buenos Aires bar, and again as the gumshoe in the homage to 1940’s Hollywood private detective movies in Dance ‘Til Dawn.

And he does not let us down here, his childish excitement as he discovers yet another piece of his past from Flit fly sprays to rocking horses, is a delight as he leads us first through the 1930s, as his younger self and Flavia first meet as she drops a glove – a symbol of love to the end - through the 40s, 60s - remember the pineapple ice buckets - and on to the 80s.

The passage of half a century is clearly defined by some wonderful costumes evoking the various eras from Vicky Gill along with music that takes us through swing, boogie and jive and the ever present ballroom – we even had a flamenco routine from Flavia.

Flavia’s costumes, incidentally, were quite exceptional, elegant, tailored to perfection and despite not so much fitting as clinging, allowed for the sort of dancing and movement that shows just why the pair are such a class act.

The ensemble of eight dancers are excellent in their own right with routines that range from energetic to elegant through the unfolding years but the stars of the show are undoubtedly Vincent and Flavia, that is who the audience have come to see and they do not disappoint.

They have danced together for more than 20 years and it shows, they move as one and when it comes to the Argentine tango they are a class apart, ending the show, as you might expect, with a final stunning display full of sensual, animal passion amid tangling legs and lightning fast kicks. If it really is the last tango, it is one to remember.

But is wasn’t just tango we had, innocent dances around picnics in the 30s, more sombre scenes in the war along with happy home comings and even had John William’s haunting violin theme from Schindler’s List played by Oliver Lewis.

We went through proposal, marriage, children, and more children and – this was before Sky or even BBC2 remember- even more children and, the inevitable loss of a lifelong partner, which is where we leave George packing his suitcase of memories and climbing down from his loft after being called by his son: “It’s time Dad!”

Time for what, we never know, sad or happy -  all we know is George can only take the memories he can carry, leaving the rest behind, which is a poignant ending to the story of his life, an ending we are left to wonder or decide ourselves.

The idea of a loftful of memories brought to life is a clever one helped by an equally clever set design from Morgan Large with minimal props changing the decades and a matrix of lights to add interest, so a mention too for James Whiteside’s lighting design which all added to the drama of solo dances.

Musical Director Steve Geere led an excellent eight piece band with Matthew Gent providing some fine period vocals.

Directed, as were the previous two Vincent and Flavia shows, by Karen Bruce The Last Tango runs to Saturday, 26 September.

Roger Clarke

22-09-15

Birmingham Hippodrome BOOK

The Last Tango returns to the Midlands at Coventry Belgrade 26-28 May, 2016. BOOK 

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