As if to disprove the old phrase, it takes 10 dancers and four musicians to provide the rhythms for Tango Fire, now installed at the Peacock Theatre. This latest Argentinian import is great fun, of course, and is even more fun as the evening wears on – a certain amount of fake bonhomie and even more dubious emoting by the cast is lost in the flash and thrash of limbs.
The opening moments are dire, as the women chuck everything except their shoes at the men and at us. The men riposte with an over-choreographed fight, eye-balling and indulging in what may pass for machismo, but the production by Carolina Soler then contrives to mind its manners, and we can enjoy the complexities of step, the helicopter-blade whirlings of the women’s legs as they are flung to the four winds by their chaps.
This is tango on the rampage, sometimes like manic ice-dancing, often reminiscent of that ancient and dangerous sport, the Apache dance. Its theatricality is sure, its demands exact, its nature never in doubt. But if you seek more stylish, more elegantly sensual and more refined (odd word to use of the tango, but the greatest performers I have seen boast an almost Mariinsky sense of form) then look elsewhere.
Yet if you do, you will miss the verve that is this show’s best card. Or almost best, for the music provided by the resident Quatrotango group (piano, bandonéon, double bass, violin) is sensationally good. These are very fine musicians, living absolutely inside their scores, with a pianist (Gabriel Clenar) of exemplary
artistry, nuance and rhythmic bravura. There is a singer, Javier di Ciriaco, who claims the songs for his own, and the five couples produce marvels of elaboration on the tango manner, the women thrown and twisted like scarves round the
The female costuming tends towards the flashy – richly sequined and cut to reveal nearly all – but the men stick mostly to suits with matching shoes, the occasional fedora, and brilliantine generously applied. A jolly evening.
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