The Last Tango, (Theatre Royal Brighton)

The Last Tango (Theatre Royal, Brighton, until Saturday, November 21st)

A mesmerising and magical evening of sheer dance delight is provided by former Strictly Come Dancing favourites and world class performers Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace in The Last Tango – billed as the pair’s final stage show together.

It may be their last hurrah but Vincent and Flavia are determined to go out in style and the enthusiastic audience was left breathless by spectacular displays which demonstrated all too clearly why the pair have been world champions. Their partnership is electrifying and, especially in their beloved Argentine Tango, there is a dynamic grace and infectious sensuality.

The production is held together simply by the narrative of an old man (the terrific, though underused, Teddy Kempner) looking back over his life while rummaging around the mementoes and junk in his attic and recalling, through the dance of those beneath him on stage, key moments with his wife.

It provides a poignant framework for a mixture of energetic, romantic and fun dances by the Strictly superstars and an exceptionally talented group of exuberant young dancers – all so good it’s hard to know who to concentrate on at any given time. Singers Matthew Gent and Rebecca Lisewski also have a smooth quality, performing such evergreens as Autumn Leaves, When I Fall in Love, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, and Beyond the Sea.

Award-winning director and co-choreographer (with Flavia and Vincent) Karen Bruce ensures every step is crisp and every move serves to  underscore the story of life, love and loss, while Morgan Large’s set has its own air of nostalgia and compliments the dance action. There’s a lovely array of costumes as the years pass, thanks to designer Vicky Gill, and Steve Geere’s musical direction has an energy which seems to inspire the performers and encourage a toe-tapping audience.

Enjoyable as the whole is, most in the audience are there to witness the extraordinary professionalism of Vincent and Flavia who certainly don’t disappoint. Of course, their passionate and pulsating Argentine Tangos are enough to bring the house down,  but there’s plenty else to dazzle, from steamy rumba to frothy jive and fruity flamenco. They have a sharp rapport which gives an edge to their dancing and they are never less than thrilling. The actual last “Super Tango” of the evening is an unbelievable and breathtaking steamy sensation, with fast and slick movement that at times seems impossible to achieve.

A particularly fun aspect of the evening is overhearing a Strictly-wise audience whispering such things as, “ah yes – that’s a heel lead” and “that would have been a ten from Len!” How wonderful to see a packed house of smiling people with many there, surely, encouraged by the success of the Saturday night pro-am contest, of which Vincent and Flavia were a part for seven years.

This may not be the last time Vincent and Flavia dance together but if it really is their last stage show then that alone should have audiences racing for tickets as they reach for their hankies. The tour runs until next summer, so there’s plenty of time to catch it and have your mind blown in the process.

David Guest