Venue: Hampstead Theatre, London, Until June 16th prior to a West End Transfer.
Adapted from Hugh Hudson’s film by Mike Bartlett
Director: Edward Hall
Cast includes: James McCardle, Jack Lowden, Natasha Broomfield, Florence Mackenzie, Mark Edel-Hunt, Tam Williams, Simon Slater, Nicholas Woodeson, Nickolas Grace and Simon Williams
As the audience file in to take their seats, so do the cast, stretching, jogging, and warming up for what will prove to be an incredibly exhilarating and exhausting two and a half hours.
Miriam Beuther’s sand and wood set, based in the round and around a three piece central revolve brings an atmosphere of a real sporting event on this sultry Hampstead heat wave evening.
Once the viewing stands are full of expectant punters and the audience (veering distinctly towards middle aged ladies) have added their own heat to the evening as the very muscly boys go through their stretches, the actor’s warm up blends seamlessly into a far more choreographed rhythm, the opening notes of Vangelis’ iconic music begin to swell and every nerve in the building begins to tingle with excitement…
Hampstead Theatre, and director Edward Hall, have produced a great show
here, when you consider the hype surrounding the Olympics and the
unlikelihood of putting as iconic a film as Chariots of Fire onto the
stage, the piece is an absolutely fantastic portrayal of a fascinating
story and an beautifully framed snapshot that captures a very different
Britain at a very momentous time in our history.
It’s not without it’s issues, there are times when a slight self
indulgence creeps into some of the longer scenes where information that
we the audience didn’t really need to have in order to follow the plot
and the story is somewhat shoehorned in but those are quickly forgotten
as another set of athlete actors runs past you, ruffling your hair with
the wind of their passage, on their way to another nail biting finish.
The most unexpected thing is that by the time we finally get to the
iconic race, the show has ceased to be about running at all and we are
totally swept up in the lives, morality and dreams of these Edwardian
The cast work as a magnificent ensemble, switching the action
effortlessly from Cambridge to Scotland to Paris with simple chairs,
tables, hats and personal props. Particularly standing out for me was
the insouciant TAM WILLIAMS as Andrew, Lord Lindsey, the magnificent
NICHOLAS WOODESON as ‘Coach’ Sam Mussabini and the irrepressible,
infectiously funny SIMON SLATER in a selection of beautifully considered
cameos. There isn’t a weak link in the chain however and all perform
with truth and great honesty.
When you go, bring your drink back into the auditorium during the
interval, otherwise you’ll miss the wonderful treat that is the half
VERDICT: **** A stunning tour-de-force start to this summer’s Olympics
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