Dr Who actor Christopher Eccleston took the bright side of the road yesterday when he visited the east Belfast home of rock superstar Van Morrison on the eve of the singer’s 75th birthday.
nd the Hyndford Street pilgrimage wasn’t the only Van-related location on the actor’s weekend itinerary.
During a jog in the east of the city, the actor also took in Cyprus Avenue, considered by many Van fans to be the standout track on Morrison’s breakthrough 1968 album Astral Weeks.
Morrison’s songs regularly reference places he frequented as a child with Orangefield, Hyndford Street and The Hollow in east Belfast, as well as Coney Island in Co Down, all immortalised in his songs.
One of the UK’s best known film and TV actors, Eccleston was in the city as part of the preparation for his role in a new play by Belfast writer Owen McCafferty.
Called The Post Corona Theatre Menu, the play will be staged in a private home in Belfast in October, with the scenes being performed in separate rooms, with the audience moving from room to room to see the scenes being performed.
As the audience makes their way through the rooms, a different set of characters will act out scenes, offering insights into their lives and relationships.
Eccleston has a long-established connection to Belfast, having worked on the BBC drama Come Home. He fell in love with the city, the people, the Guinness – and, friends say, with Redbreast whiskey.
“I’m honoured and proud to be part of Soda Bread Theatre and Owen McCafferty’s upcoming Post Corona Theatre Menu event,” the actor said.
“Like everybody in every industry I’m desperate to get back to work and make a difference.
“To be doing it in my beautiful, beloved Belfast makes it very special for me personally,” he added.
The cast will include Eccleston, Kerri Quinn, Andrew Simpson, Antoinette Morelli, Gerard McCabe, Siobhan Kelly, Marty Maguire, Jo Donnelly and Terence Keeley .
The play is being produced by the Soda Bread Theatre Company, which was established to showcase Northern Ireland’s best writers and acting talent.
Soda Bread works with well known actors, and selects shows that get audiences away from their box sets and down to the theatre box office.
Producer Gerard McCabe said: “I have been in contact with fellow actors during lockdown.
“We are very keen to showcase live theatre, in a way that will be safe for the audience, and the actors, and give a live experience for the audience.
“The audience numbers will be restricted to the current coronavirus legislation, and all contact, tracing and temperature checking will be carried out.
“The cast and myself are all very much looking forward to performing live again, which will be a unique experience for the audience.”
Tickets for The Post Corona Theatre Menu will cost £15.