The Last Tango

Apr 8 2016 | By More

★★★★☆    Fond farewell

Playhouse: Thurs 7 – Sat 9 Apr 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

Beautifully danced and packing considerable emotional punch, The Last Tango at the Playhouse and on tour to July 2016 is a genuine crowd-pleaser.

This is billed as the final tour in the 20-year professional partnership of Strictly Come Dancing favourites Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace.

Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone - The Last Tango. Photo Manuel Harlan

Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone – The Last Tango. Photo Manuel Harlan

Thanks to the success of Strictly, millions will know Vincent and Flavia as specialists in what is known in dance circles as the Argentine tango (as opposed to the ballroom dance derived from it), and will recognise the interlocking turns and leg flicks that characterise the dance.

While these performances, often executed at dizzying speed, are what most of the pair’s obviously huge following have come to see, a wide variety of dance styles is on display.

The show is framed by the story of an older man (Teddy Kempner) clearing out his attic. He discovers items that lead him into reminiscences, played out through dance, of his younger self (Simone) and his relationship with the love of his life, played by Cacace.

neat theatrical touches

In truth, it’s a rather sketchy story, with a sequence of events that does not bear much examination. It might have been better had the few lines of dialogue that do appear been removed – although it seems guileless, the love story is cleverly told, with the progress of the couple’s relationship signified by some neat theatrical touches.

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace - The Last Tango Photo Manuel Harlan

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace – The Last Tango Photo Manuel Harlan

The evening is designed for maximum emotional impact, and the two leads manage to communicate a great deal without saying anything. As a farewell performance, it is decidedly wistful and melancholy at times, with unashamedly sentimental moments predominating – such as a movingly romantic goodbye at the end of the first half, or a bittersweet routine to Autumn Leaves.

The latter is excellently sung by Matthew Gent, who provides vocals for several numbers, and is particularly strong on 40s and 50s standards. Much of the music comes from this period, with the ensembles evoking Golden Age Hollywood.

emotional content

The choreography – by Simone and Cacace with director Karen Bruce – is strong on both the romantic numbers and the peppy, uptempo songs that often feature second vocalist Rebecca Lisewski. The effectiveness of these is considerably enhanced by Steve Geere’s indefatigable band, Vicky Gill’s marvellous costumes and Morgan Large’s evocative set.

Morgan Large’s evocative set. Photo Manuel Harlan

Morgan Large’s evocative set. Photo Manuel Harlan

The structure of the show may not be perfect – and it is a shame that there is comparatively little chance for Simone to adopt the clown-like persona he has shown himself capable of – but there cannot be any criticism of the stamina or emotional content of the dancing.

Some comparable performers have padded out their live shows with lame sketches or audience Q and As. This, however, is another proper full-length production, well deserving of the wholehearted reception it received.

Running time 1 hour 50 minutes (including one interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA
Thursday 7 – Saturday 9 April 2016
Daily: 7.30pm; Matinee Sat: 2.30pm.
Full details and tickets on the Playhouse website:


The Last Tango on tour 2016:
Thu 7 – Sat 9 Apr Edinburgh
0844 871 3014 Book online
Tue 12 – Sat 16 Apr Canterbury
Marlowe Theatre
01227 787787 Book online
Tue 19 – Sat 23 Apr Eastbourne
Congress Theatre
01323 412000 Book online
Mon 25 – Wed 27 Apr Leicester
De Montfort Hall
0116 233 3111 Book online
Thu 28 – Sat 30 Apr Plymouth
0845 146 1460 Book online
Mon 2 – Sat 7 May Leeds
Grand Theatre
0844 848 2700 Book online
Mon 16 – Sat 21 May Darlington
Civic Theatre
01325 486555 Book online
Mon 23 – Wed 25 May Nottingham
Concert Hall
0115 989 5555 Book online
Thu 26 – Sat 26 May Coventry
0024 7655 3055 Book online
Tue 31 May – Sat 4 Jun Inverness
Eden Court Theatre
01463 234 234 Book online
Tue 7 – Sat 11 Jun Dublin
Bord Gais Energy Theatre
+353 (1) 677 7999 Book online
Mon 13 – Sat 18 Jun Aberdeen
His Majesty’s Theatre
01224 641122 Book online
Mon 27 Jun – Sat 2 Jul Blackpool
The Grand Theatre
01253 290 190 Book online
Tue 5 – Wed 6 Jul Stoke on Trent
Regent Theatre
0844 871 7649 Book online
Thu 7 – Sat 9 Jul Oxford
New Theatre
0844 871 3020 Book online
Tue 12 – Sat 16 Jul Southampton
Mayflower Theatre
02380 711811 Book online


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