Lowden will play devout Scottish Christian Eric Liddell, with McArdle as son of an immigrant Jew Harold Abrahams, in the famous tale of two passionate, committed athletes spurred on by very different motives at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
When the pair step onto the Hampstead stage, it promises to look very different as designer Miriam Buether is to transform it into a stadium to create an “immersive experience”. The award-winning designer is no stranger to theatrical overhauls having installed a snaking walkway in the National’s Cottesloe theatre for Earthquakes In London and built a boxing ring at the Royal Court for Sucker Punch.
Lowden and McArdle are joined in Hampstead’s stadium by Nickolas Grace (The Drowsy Chaperone), Simon Williams (Yes, Prime Minister) and Nicholas Woodeson (An Inspector Calls).
The timely adaptation of the Olympic tale, which will feature the famous music by Vangelis, begins a summer season at the Swiss Cottage venue that also includes a trio of shows by Irish dramatist Tom Murphy – Famine, A Whistle In The Dark, Conversations On A Homecoming – and the return of all-male Shakespearean theatre company Propeller, with its productions of Henry V and The Winter’s Tale.