Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Christopher Eccleston to make surprise Traverse debut
Doctor Who, Cracker and Shallow Grave star Christopher Eccleston is to make a surprise on-stage appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The Traverse Theatre has scored a huge coup in its 60th-anniversary year by landing the actor for a one-off performance of a play where he will be reading the script for the first time.
Scottish screen star Jack Lowden, Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Rose Matafeo, and Gary Tank Commander favourite Greg McHugh will also be performing a work by an Iranian playwright, which features a new actor in every show who has not prepared or rehearsed with the script.
Two other special guests are still to be announced for the week-long run of Nassim, which Eccleston will appear in on Tuesday morning.
Described as “an audacious new theatrical experiment,” Nassim Soleimanpour’s play – an exploration of “how language can divide and unite us”- premiered at the Traverse in 2017 and went on to win a Scotsman Fringe First Award.
Eccleston's appearance in the Traverse's main theatre space, which has a capacity of just 270, is expected to be one of the hottest tickets in the final week of the Fringe, which boasts more than 3,700 shows this year. Eccleston shot to fame appearing alongside Ewan McGregor in Shallow Grave before a starring role in the BBC drama Our Friends In The North.
He will be appearing at the Traverse for the first time in his career next week. His first professional acting role was in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire at Bristol Old Vic.
Eccleston’s appearance at the Traverse has been confirmed months after the theatre hired Chris Lawson, former artistic director of Oldham Coliseum theatre. The actor, who was born in Salford, in Lancashire, appeared in the final performance at the venue in March after it fell victim to funding cuts.
The Traverse started life in an abandoned brothel off the Lawnmarket, on the Royal Mile, in 1963. Within three years it had produced 110 plays, including 28 British premieres and 33 world premieres. It relocated to the Grassmarket in 1969 and then to its existing home on Cambridge Street in 1992.
Famous Traverse alumni include Billy Connolly, Billy Nighy, Simon Callow, Alan Cumming, Robbie Coltrane, Tilda Swinton, Bill Paterson and Ashley Jensen.
Linda Crooks, chief executive and executive producer at the Traverse, said: “It’s wonderful to have Christopher Eccleston as part of our programme for our 60th-anniversary celebrations. Nassim is a show that celebrates the power of communication, and the importance of language, culture and community, which are just some of the values that epitomise the Traverse.
“To have the show return to the place where it all started in 2017 is an exceptional way to celebrate this anniversary and to have performers of such calibre is a fitting tribute to the multitude of actors and artists who have graced our stages in the past 60 years.”
Soleimanpour said: "Following six years of intensive international tours and over 400 performances across a myriad of languages, we’re elated to present Nassim for another week-long spectacle under the auspices of the Traverse.
“This unswerving theatrical experiment has already entranced legions of theatre, television and film luminaries, and is now poised to come back to Edinburgh to capture another six in August. It will touch your heart and blow your mind.”
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.