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Napoletango Review

Josh Learner discovers some pulse-racing dancing and a walk down memory lane

Written by . Published on August 5th 2011.

Napoletango Review

‘DOING the tango’ takes me back to primary school. My music teacher would often casually ask us to press the self-titled button on our keyboard revealing a pre-recorded ‘tango’ number. We were expected to dance to this like the naïve, young souls we were with our dignity unashamedly gone. That’s where my love affair with tango pretty much ended. Until now that is. What better way, I thought, in pulling back the curtains to my own tango nostalgia, than going to a night at the London Coliseum to watch Giancarlo Sepe’s Napoletango. 

There were some truly remarkable passages of tango. Especially the Argentinean sequence, which received the biggest cheer from both the crowd and, more specifically, from Bruce Forsyth, who was hovering above his seat like an excited schoolchild in front of me.

Napoletango tells the story of the Incoronato family, a travelling troupe of twenty entertainers, famous in Naples for their special art and passion for tango. Having performed throughout Italy at religious ceremonies and festivals, the family’s arrival at the London Coliseum was the first time they’d been invited to perform at a real theatre, and it was apparent from the word go that we were in for something a little unconventional, so to speak.


From the opening few scenes, that of introducing the Incoronato family, to the end where they finally perform their show, you begin to realise this isn’t going to be your average night out. Anarchy, chaos and flamboyancy are but a few adjectives which sum up the troupe, or perhaps, they can be named a little more bluntly, as described in the Campania Region of Naples: ‘a very noisy circus family’. They all come with their own idiosyncrasies and backgrounds, including Kallas, a rather confused, blind, German man with a dream of ‘doing the tango’ and the mother of the family, Concetta Incoronato, who unabashedly shouts, kicks and dances her way through the production.

The family, from what I had read beforehand, welcomes people from all nationalities and ages. This left me a little confused, but I was advised by a fellow journalist sitting next to me to not worry about that too much and just watch the dancing. Although I found the music captivating, most notably The Gotan Project’s ‘Arrabel’ and Aurelio Fierro’s ‘Scapricciatiello’, the aesthetical pleasure I was craving came in dribs and drabs.


The introduction of Argentinian tango dancer, Pablo Canaro, set my pulse racing; with his emphatically gorgeous lines and swag, he tried to impress the family in accepting his different style of tango. But I realised near to the interval that I was going in and out of self-enjoyment after some very bizarre scenes, including an old people’s disco and a bedroom scene where I found myself switching off. The latter appeared to depict the family in a bedroom the night before their big show, with a masked figure going from one family member to the next and extracting their dreams.

All very odd.


After the interval, there were some truly remarkable passages of tango. Especially the Argentinean sequence, which received the biggest cheer from both the crowd and, more specifically, from Bruce Forsyth, who was hovering above his seat like an excited schoolchild in front of me. Well if Bruce is enjoying himself, I thought, then so bloody well am I. I illustrated this perfectly when the whole cast came down to the stairway at the end pulling members of the audience to participate in dancing the tango. My heart skipped a beat when the red-haired family member, Spagnoletta, reached for my hand. I spontaneously grabbed it and before I knew it I was tangoing up and down the stairway with heads turned. It was like primary school all over again, apart from this time in front of 700 people. On the whole I enjoyed Napoletango, as long as you don’t take it too seriously, after all, it is the tango. 


More Information

Napoletango is ends 6th August so get your tickets before it's too late

Show times: Thu – Sat: 7:30pm, Saturday matinee 2:30pm
Tickets: £10 – £49

St Martin's Lane
London, WC2N 4ES




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