We really were not certain what to expect with this show. Mrs Chrisparkle had heard bad things about Strictly Confidential and was dreading this would be something similar. Not a bit of it. This is a first rate, exciting, stylish, attractive and skilful show with some top quality dancing and a narrative that is satisfying enough to give you dramatic tension but not so complicated that it gets in the way of the dancing.
The set is a superb evocation of a Buenos Aires bar – it reminded Mrs C and I of many places where we had whiled away the evenings during our South America trip. It’s run by Carlos and Rosa, an older couple who have obviously had their ups and downs and whose relationship is stale and based on mutual contempt. But it’s all depicted humorously, and serves to provide a terrific light and shade contrast with the serious tangoing that takes up the majority of the show. Halfway through act one, Carlos has a sorrowful dance memory of the good old days with Rosa, a rather emotional sequence which decides him to reignite their spark, and in the second act there’s a definite upgrade to their relationship. Carlos and Rosa’s mini-drama goes alongside the main story which is the age-old simple tale of a blossoming relationship (between Pablo and Sofia) and how it gets interrupted by the arrival of a mystery man (El Gato) who sets about stealing the girl. But how will it resolve itself in the end? You’ll have to go see it to find out.
Pablo and Sofia are danced by Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace of Strictly Come Dancing fame. Not since the 1970s have I heard such a rousing star round of applause for their entrance appearances on stage. The audience were absolutely rapt to see them. All credit to Vincent and Flavia for both giving the public what they want and also making it a show to be proud of rather than simply offering some placating pap just to scoop in some box office takings. It goes without saying that they are a class act. Their dances together, particularly in the second act, are of the highest quality and if you like to see some Argentine Tango, you will not be disappointed. It was sharp, serious, powerful and sensual. Flavia looks stunning in a variety of beautiful dresses – I particularly liked her little black number that she ended the show on; Mrs C will be leafing through the racks at H&M to find it. Vincent is of course the inimitable self-assured Vincent you would expect him to be.
Carlos and Rosa are played by Anthony Renshaw and Tricia Deighton, and they both put in very fine comedy performances. It can’t be often that taking someone’s coat off gets a round of applause. When Rosa appeared in her changed costume towards the end, she got wolf-whistled from the audience – but we were quite an unruly bunch. The audience were absolutely carried away with their story and absolutely loved their performances. Diomar Giraldo, as mystery man El Gato, cuts a fine swarthy figure as he sets about enticing Sofia with his gancho. He’s a great dancer, and I was also really impressed with the dance work of Richard Manuel, Daniel Raphael, Pauline Reibell and Maria Tsiatsianis, among the ensemble of talented tangoists that frame the story.
The music, which is superbly authentic Argentine tango style, is performed by the live group Tango Siempre, with their singer Miguel Angel, who absolutely looks the part and puts in a terrific performance. The lighting is lively and exciting, the costumes immaculate, and the choreography enthralling. It’s a wonderful way to spend two hours in a South American fantasyland, and is a huge crowd-pleaser. We enjoyed it much, much more than we had expected. It’s going on to Canterbury, Manchester and Leeds once it has left Northampton – do yourself a favour and see it.