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Review: WILD TANGO at Peacock Theatre

A rare miss for the World Tango champions

Review: WILD TANGO at Peacock Theatre Review: WILD TANGO at Peacock Theatre Save for COVID, German Cornejo and his company of tango dancers have thrilled audiences with their seductive, authentic displays of the much loved ballroom dance for countless seasons in London. It may have been predictable, but it was enjoyable and well executed. Now for their return post-pandemic, they are trying something new, but unfortunately it's a much poorer vehicle for displaying the talents of highly skilled dancers. Wrapped up in kitsch gimmicks, Wild Tango is inspired by the origins of the tango where two men danced together, showcasing their unique strength and synergy, but the result leaves the audience a little baffled.

Some familiar aspects remain, such as the full band of musicians who sit to the back of the stage, and throughout the evening provide a range of interludes that this time favour rock over the more traditional - it's Wild Tango, see? Two rickety towers of scaffolding are on either side of them and they are manoeuvred to various purposes over the course of the show; dancers climb atop them and singers drape themselves across, but the structures are clunky and fragile looking.

The cast for this production consists mostly of males and just three females. There are various iterations of same sex partnerships, but they feel thrown together and are often launched into without a backstory. This is true of the opening number where we're told we're going to be shown how wild tango can really be. However, what follows is a kind of indecipherable, hop hop-tango-street blend. It's painful to write because Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi are World Tango champions, but there is precious little opportunity to showcase it here.

There are also ill-judged 'filler' sections too, with dancers doubling as aerial artists. The two supporting women, Maia Roldan and Pamela Pucheta, dance with members of the ensemble with interspersed sections of aerial work. They should be synchronised, but it seems a struggle for both women to mirror each other, and so the audience never relaxes into the performance. Both are dancers of excellent pedigree, Pucheta is a tango professional and Roldan is adept at contemporary styles. Unfortunately, this is a clunky gimmick that needs more rehearsal time to be impressive.

The costumes too are sadly in need of rethinking. Designed by Cornejo himself in collaboration with Gerardo Casas, one would be forgiven for thinking they'd stumbled into some kind of fetish-wear shop, and not an expensive one either. The ladies wear synthetic black outfits with corset bodices and chiffon skirts. Later in the second act there are lurid neon body suits with contrasting colour straps to be admired, but what it all means I am not sure.

The saving grace is when Cornejo and Galeassi finally have the stage to themselves in the second act. Sadly, some of the audience have already left. They share a chemistry and fire that transcends the setting, and a connection that feels like they don't even need to rehearse. The steps just pour out of them and it's a blistering reminder of what a full show from them can be like.

Cornejo and Co. will return later in the year with a revival of Tango After Dark, a far more sophisticated, sultry evening that will thrill tango traditionalists and of course Strictly fans, who can hopefully forgive this unusual misstep.

Wild Tango runs at the Peacock Theatre until May 21

Photo Credit: Leo Mason

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