Theatre Review: Midnight Tango

Midnight Tango     PIC: Manuel Harlan

Midnight Tango PIC: Manuel Harlan

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It is perhaps fitting that on one of the hottest weeks of the year so far, dance duo Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have brought their sultry tango moves to the Royal & Derngate stage in Northampton.

The pair, who shot to fame in BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing series, have long been heralded King and Queen of this dance style. Their impressive career accolades include having been UK Argentine Tango Champions and World Argentine Tango Show Champions (two years running).

So having the chance to see them in action on Monday evening, as part of their Midnight Tango tour, was a real joy.

A dance-only performance with singing and a live band, but no spoken words, the moves of each dancer become even more important in enabling a story to be told.

All of the action takes place in a Buenos Aires bar run by the bickering married couple Carlos (Anthony Renshaw) and Rose (Tricia Deighton). Surrounded by lovers who arrive each night to play out their romances and tango moves on the dance floor, their own love story soon comes under the spotlight.

The lead characters are Pablo (Vincent) and Sofia (Flavia) whose romance also unfolds through dancing the night away at the bar. Yet when El Gato (played by Diomar Giraldo) arrives, there is an unwanted rival for Sofia’s affections. But who will win the girl’s heart? (I think we can guess).

I am a great fan of Strictly Come Dancing and was delighted to note that Flavia and Vincent’s dance skills seemed even better in a live performance than they appear on the show.

Watching them dance together, it is painfully obvious how even the best celebrity contestants on the BBC programme really prevent the professionals from showing what they can do.

But in a show like Midnight Tango, there are no such restrictions and the routines the pair - and backing dancers - carry out are truly breathtaking.

The ever-beautiful Flavia has a great stage presence and no extraordinarily flexible bend or move is wasted in telling the story. I really enjoyed the rapid footwork sequences in which she and Vincent quickly bend and kick their legs in true tango style.

I would like to have seen a little more humour from Vincent, who introduced only one light moment in the show when his character arches an eyebrow at his love rival. But on the other hand, the show is not ‘Strictly,’ and should be appreciated for exactly what it is.

Plenty of humour is injected by the characters of Carlos and Rose, who provide a heart-warming sub-plot.

The story of Midnight Tango is fairly simple and limited but I think audiences can really appreciate this show if they see it as a showcase for tango as an art form; after all, the skills of these dancers are truly extraordinary.

Midnight Tango will run at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday. See www.royalandderngate.co.uk.