One Night In Istanbul was my first collaboration with Bang On Top Productions. It follows four Liverpool fans as they prepare to watch the legendary Champions League Final in Istanbul in 2005. Upon arriving in Turkey they encounter criminals, a flirty chambermaid and a bizarre conspiracy involving Hitler’s cufflinks.
However, the plot is really secondary in this play. The real appeal is the football; with various clips of Liverpool’s footballing past being displayed on big screens and the final penalty shoot out being shown in its entirety. This play serves so well as ‘theatre for people who don’t like theatre’. The Liverpool Empire was packed out every night with football fans, bringing banners and flags with them. The atmosphere was more like being at a game than in the theatre, which was a real positive and the grand finale consisted of LFC legends bringing out the 5 cups.
From a make up perspective our job (there was a team of about 4-5 of us each night) was to design make up that could be quickly changed throughout the night as most of the cast played both English and Turkish parts. We initially tried cream paint, but found it was too thick and melted under the stage lights and so settled on Grimas cake foundation which worked more like a face paint. Offstage, even in their ‘English’ guise the cast looked orange, but once on stage, their skin looked natural and healthy.
We also had to age one of the lead actors every night, (John Bishop in 2009 and Neil Fitzmaurice in 2010) which meant spraying their hair grey. Any make up aging wouldn’t have been seen in such a large theatre so we decided ageing the hair was enough.
The last thing we were responsible for was the microphones. Over the first few dress rehearsals we tried many different techniques. Firstly we created hair elastics, with the mics entwined to wrap around the head. These were quite effective but were too visible. We then tried kirby grips, but this was no good when the actors had such short hair.
In the end it was decided that tape would be best so the mics could be accurately placed against the face. The biggest problem was to find the best tape. Under hot stage lights most of the cast got sweaty so that no tape would stick. We tried waterproof plasters, surgical tape, toupee tape, mastix. We probably even tried gaffer tape in desperation! In the end we discovered some cheap fabric plasters that were much stickier than anything else. This solved all our problems until one cast member informed us he was allergic to plasters. Great. Happily he had enough hair that we could use the elastics on him and just hope the mic stayed in place.
The play was such a hit it returned for a second run before being shown over in Dublin. It was also filmed and the DVD can be purchased here.