Chariots of Fire Icon

Gielgud Theatre

Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 6AR

Chariots Of Fire

Gielgud Theatre 3D location mapMap ©Silvermaze Ltd 2008 Gielgus Theatre photoPhoto ©Tony Reading 2008

Show Details

Preview 23rd Jun 12
Opens 23rd Jun 12
Closes 5th Jan 13

Show Times

Mon - Sat 7.45 pm
Matinée Weds & Sat 3.00 pm
Length of show - 2hrs 30mins

Local Info
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A classic viewing of all the Theatreland play houses by night. The authentic commentary, by Ben Shafik - a player himself - gives an authentic feel to the West End's theatres - and is backed by real music.
Next version will be more upbeat as, suggested, to celebrate Britannia's unbeatable heritage.
(Over 6000 viewings and all good reviews to date).
Let us know what you think.

A note from the author

I took these pictures to show off London theatres as they are seen -most often - by theatre goers, at night.

Thanks to Ben Shafik for his lighthearted and informative commentary and Fionn O'Lochlainn for the original music.

Watch out for the new version with current liveries and the names of the theatres as they appear.




  • Jack Lowden - Eric Liddell
  • James McArdle - Harold Abrahams
  • Sam Archer - Athlete
  • Joe Bannister - Frank
  • Antonia Bernath - Florence Mackenzie
  • Natasha Broomfield -Jennie Liddell
  • Gareth Charlton - Athlete
  • Henry Davis - Athlete
  • Mark Edel-Hunt - Aubrey Montague
  • Lloyd Everitt - Athlete
  • Daniel Fraser - Athlete
  • Nickolas Grace - Master Of Trinity
  • Leemore Marrett Jr - Athlete
  • David Newman - Prince of Wales
  • Matthew Pearson - Sandy McGrath
  • Simon Slater - Mr Liddell / Foster
  • Savannah Stevenson - Sybil Gordon
  • Paul Tinto - Secretary of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society
  • Simon Williams - Master of Caius
  • Tam Williams - Lord Andrew Lindsay
  • Nicholas Woodeson - Sam Mussabini


  • Director - Edward Hall
  • Design - Miriam Buether
  • Lighting - Rick Fisher
  • Choreography - Scott Ambler
  • Costume - Michael Howells
  • Sound - Paul Groothuis
  • Producer - Hugh Hudson, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson and Michael Rose Limited present Hampstead Theatre production.


This is a stage adaptation of the brilliant film released in 1981 'Chariots of Fire', which depicts the fastest runners in England and Scotland Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell respectively, each winning Gold medals at the Paris Olympics in 1924.

Chariots Of Fire - Lowden

The play made the most of Vangelis's famous theme tune of the film with the cast of sportsmen singing, dancing and some playing instruments.

Ed Hall, celebrating the Olympics in London in 2012, took on the impossible by producing a stage play which received acclaim at smaller theatres before opening in the West End having just played in the intimate small Hampstead Theatre.

Miriam Buether designed an ingenious and beautiful set with a revolving circuit, and some specially-constructed 'stadium seats' on the stage that put some of the audience very close to the action.


Chariots Of Fire - McArdle / AbrahamsAbrahams experienced some awkward times at Cambridge with some social snobbery - mainly from die-hard staff of the college.  He worked hard at sport, winning most of the running and entertained people on the piano singing well practiced Gilbert and Sullivan. Thus he was popular among his peers because he was outstanding. Nonetheless he was essentially a popular 'outsider'.

Liddell's university career also showed him the fastest runner - often dubbed the 'Flying Scotsman' and he was also a well respected Rugby player playing for Scotland several times. He set himself apart from the crowd in sports excellence and also by his passion for God,  being a regular preacher in Kirks in the Anglican religion.

Chariots Of Fire - LiddellHe refused to disrespect God's commandments by running on the Sabbath and since heats in the Olympics were on Sunday he failed to show up for the 100 yards, leaving it to be won by Abrahams against all expectations - against the American fastest man in the world.  Nor did he show for the 2 British team relays, leaving them angry and third. Therefore both men were deeply affected by their religions which they said to have inspired them to excel in sport. Liddell used to finish his races with his face turned to the sky as a symbol of thanking God in heaven while Abrahams was keenly sensitive, recoiling inwardly at the open sleights relating to his religion which only served to 'push him on a little'.

The casual attitude of the Olympics organisers was also covered in the play.  The men and women had to train themselves largely like Lord Lindsay who was good at leaping hurdles upon which his butler placed glasses of champagne. In addition the Olympics in the 20's was very different from our recent  2012 extravaganza - the opening of which was tantamount to a clear message to the people about the achievements and history of Britannia. The affair was very municipal in Paris nearly a century back.

Chariots of Fire - Leaping Lord

Races run live on stage were riveting and captured the audience attention. The players - all 21 of them put all their hearts into the action - involving the whole audience in the real excitement of the races themselves. An they are left well fit every day. The sportsmen must regard it as training with a spark of glamour which is hardly the general status of training.

The whole cast and those behind the production deliver a unique example of one of the major advantages of theatre over film - a physical experience in which the two lead sportsmen / players Jack Lowden (Liddell) and James McArdle (Abrahams) are also outstanding outsiders as lesser known actors.

Chariots of Fire - Winning Race

Booking iconThe challenge of bringing the Olympic atmosphere to a stage performance is well worth booking to see it as is a brilliantly thought out and executed piece of theatre - as historic in itself as their world records and gold medals.

© 2017 Update 8th Jan 2013