Edinburgh Playhouse ***
EVER since it originated in Buenos Aires’ seaside bordellos in the early 1900s, the tango has sent many people’s mercury rising.
In fact, the tango was once considered so risque and indecent that it was banned by the Pope and barred from being performed in public in several European countries.
Not quite as controversial anymore, but mercifully still sexy, last night’s show at the Playhouse was more a biography of the dance than a revue - a series of striking vignettes focusing on the tango’s sensual style and development over the last hundred years.
The first half centred around a Buenos Aires cafe circa 1930. To start, a slick and fluent love triangle was battled out on the dance floor, swiftly followed by a sassy sex-kitten cruelly toying with four male dancers.
The second half gave way to Zoot suits and waxwork dummy complexions as the tango’s contemporary history was explored. Highlights here included the almost violent segment from two male dancers, although the biggest cheer of the night went to a lone female dancer who posed as an inebriated floosy. Her abstract, drunken body language somehow made a dance routine that seemed so wrong, so right.
And a bizarre computer-animated dance sequence towards the end was a surreal, yet welcome insert, unlike the intermittent cabaret numbers sung in sleazy-style by what looked like an overweight Andy Williams - definitely the show’s low point. A pity considering that the musical accompaniment was being provided by the world-famous Sexteto Mayor Orchestra.
The real passion though, came from the dancers who lived and breathed the tango. Tango Pasion has all the essential ingredients of a dance spectacle: enticing wardrobe, opulent lighting, passionate and diverse dancing.
Tango fans will no doubt find this sizzling, fiery spectacular a blast and last night those who saw it cha-cha’d their way merrily out onto Greenside Place at the end. They certainly knew that they had been tangoed.
• Run ends Saturday