When the Olympics were on, Duke and I went and saw a pretty amazing (and appropriately themed) show -
I'd never seen the movie, and to be honest, wasn't really excited about Chariots of Fire. I didn't know much about it, and was pretty meh. However, Duke had already seen it, and his enthusiasm for a second viewing convinced me, so off we went. Turns out that actually? It's a pretty amazing show.
The set is brilliant - it's set up a bit like a stadium, except that the Gielgud Theatre is a pretty small and intimate theatre, so they had a track and they put seats in the middle of one of the loops. So yeah, with that in mind, the actors run around the audience. And boy, do they RUN! There was so much running. And I mean full paced, sprinting. Sometimes just face paced around and around and around, but mostly full paced sprinting. It was phenomenal to watch, not the least bit because of the view of some very fit actors. (They're also very very pretty. Jack Lowden, Tam Williams, Daniel Fraser, swoon!)
The show itself is actually about the 1924 Olympics in Paris, and share the stories of Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, the fastest men in Great Britain! both competed under the GB banner back in the day. It was pretty novel to see the switch from modern day Olympians with all their lycra to back in the day uniforms and styles. There was insight into the world of Cambridge, and the prominence of the church's values (Liddell wouldn't run on Sundays, did you know?) and the accents, oh the accents! Loved it.
It was a pretty easy show to watch, and I enjoyed it immensely. I suspect that possibly that was because I had no idea what the deal was going in (I'm not a fan of movie to theatre shows. Ghost is a perfect example, in that I didn't enjoy it one iota. I laughed at the climax, because I thought the lady next to me was laughing and was glad I wasn't the only one who found it funny. Turns out she was crying. Hawkward).
The half time show was also pretty brilliant, some of the actors played a few songs for us (themselves, on wind/brass instruments) which was hilarious! The bandmaster (on clarinet) was such a comedian, and I loved it. They got the audience to clap, and sing, and gave a large pair of symbols to someone in the audience, and it was brilliant! A great way to pass the time between acts.
Loved the show, actually. We were also lucky enough to get tickets through Whats on Stage who had an outing (their word, not mine) where we got stick around for a quick Q&A session with what turned out the be the writer, and pretty much ALL the actors. Seeing them up close (or rather, closer) as themselves, and hearing them talk about the show was good. They did a military training course to train for all the running before the show, and all the actors watched the olympics while they were off stage, only running on to do their bit, and then back to the green room to watch real olympians do their thing.
It was pretty exceptional, and if you are in London, the shows running until November. You should definitely go see it, if you get a chance. Tickets are relatively cheap (£25 for the circle) and honestly, you won't be disappointed. Loved it!
Full disclosure, image by Manuel Harlan, of James Mcardle, Tam Williams and Ensemble.