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Tango Moderno review at Churchill Theatre, Bromley – ‘dismal and reductive’

Flavia Cacace and company in Tango Moderno. Photo: Manuel Harlan Flavia Cacace and company in Tango Moderno. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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The latest star vehicle for Strictly faves Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone inadvertently offers a deeply dismal and reductive take on modern life. There’s not really much tango involved. As Simone is indisposed on press night, Cacace is partnered by two drafted-in dancers who, though admirable enough, inevitably fail to make much of an impression in their truncated roles. By means of buoyant foxtrots and slinky salsa, the ever-elegant Cacace becomes a kind of Cupid figure, flitting through an ensemble of unhappy, horny millennials and pairing them up with the help of some mysterious aphrodisiac powder.

Against an urban backdrop of doorways, a concrete gangway and garages – like some halcyon version of the Heygate estate – an earnest street-poet type in skinny jeans (with de rigeur acoustic guitar) spouts stuff about feelings and gives strained renditions of Ed Sheeran songs. The low point is a heavily constipated Percy Sledge cover. Even Nina Simone’s Sinnerman is appropriated for a banal vignette about needing to pee on the tube.

The choreography, though decently crafted and competently performed by a committed cast, is slave to these laughably shallow sequences about contemporary life. There’s a ‘blah blah cha cha cha’ in which everyone’s glued to smartphone screens. A section about suburbia offers gender stereotypes galore (arse-skimming housecoats and oven gloves for prancing girls) in a weirdly aggressive red-tinted gloom. A sanitised set piece about Tinder (sans dick pics or the prevailing sense of crushingly low self-esteem) falls flat for anyone with a modicum of emotional intelligence.

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Dire depiction of contemporary life via commercial dance in which gender binaries prevail