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THEATRE REVIEW: One Night in Istanbul, Grand Opera House, Belfast

June 10th, 2015 by Conor ONeill Comments

theatre newsOne night in instanbul

One Night in Istanbul
Grand Opera House

Opening night and packed to the rafters, Belfast’s Grand Opera House hosts a travelling band of actors retelling the grandeur of LFC’s wonderful win in Turkey. I’m a United fan but I found this rapturous night of comedy drawing me to the Mersey. Don’t ask me the actors or who set the set, made the costumes or any of that; programmes weren’t on sale.

Eleven actors, musicians and comedians centred round four Scousers in Istanbul. Each wanting to buy a ticket, regardless of the price, to see their team lift the trophy. This being a comedy/musical, things obviously don’t go their way.

Two single beds in a room bedecked with items from the 90s stretch the mind back to, well the 90s. If it looked cool then it’ll probably come back to fashion in the next 20 years. Left and right of the audience’s view are drum kits, guitars and flutes. The Scouse banter soon turns to authoritarian Turk police trying their best to engage our four pivotal cast members as the seek the unavailable. Expect a tied up Liverpudlian recounting the mayhem of finding his team is three nil down at half-time. Like watching the Titanic or Mel Gibson’s The Crucifixion of Christ, we all know the ending. But this; it gets us there with laughs and sobs.

The musicality throughout is outstanding. With a Mersey-Back-Beat surviving till the end, a rapturous 500 odd people clap through two standing ovations. At every returned goal played on a high wired TV behind the stage, we all cheer. Yes, there was an abundance of Liverpool fans there, but no one can deny the beauty of this play, nor its power to believe in a Lazuras-type rebirth.

Three three at full-time. Penalties are the equaliser. The audience gasps at every kick. Some seem unaware of the result; the rest still feel the torment of 10 years ago. As each ball goes in the mood is swamped by nostalgia, balls missed are met with ‘ahhs’. Goals equal ‘wayhey’ depending on the colour of the kit.

The script is something else, never before will you hear: “London gave us the Elephant Man, Manchester gave us the Neville brothers.” Or “You’ll wake up with an arsehole like the Japanese flag.” Tighter than a Scottish Scrooge, the writing is fantastic, with some of the cast laughing at others’ gags. Add that to great actors and a bouncing soundtrack and you’ll make a lot of people happy.

One Night in Istanbul runs till June 13. For details contact the Grand Opera Hopuse on: 02890 241919 or visit

4 out of 5 Nerds



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Conor O'Neill is at times a playwright and a qualified journalist. He has worked for the Belfast Telegraph, Portadown Times and South Belfast Advertiser. He also contributes to various online e-zines, specialising in theatre, gig reviews and other cultural events. If you were to ask him what he does, he will say 'I'm functioning'... that's a lie. Best suited to pressure and deadlines, O'Neill thrives on the moment, the passion and the thrill of now, he's only happy when he's watching or reviewing a play.