Every town had a Regal Cinema. Or a Roxy, or a Rio, or a Rialto.
They all had a special quality which multiplexes haven’t come close to capturing.
The popcorn may have been supersized, and films turned into glorious 3D, but the true magic of a night at the movies belongs to a different era - one that spanned several generations too.
Double Feature taps into that nostalgia – the days of Kia Ora, Pearl and Dean, and when cinema had smoking and no smoking sections – but it’s much more than simply a stroll down memory lane.
Grant Stott and Andy Gray’s play made its debut at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and is now enjoying a short tour of Scottish theatres, with a stop off at the Byre in St Andrews on Saturday before heading to the Kings in Edinburgh, which has become their second home as Scotland’s leading panto double act.
Double Feature is set in a disused cinema - ‘’the once regal Regal’’ - due to be turned into flats once the clutter has been cleared from behind the scenes.
As lifelong pals Davey and Mikey rummage through the debris of old film cans and faded posters, they re-enact epic scenes, share memories, and recall the characters who ran the once thriving venue.
With some inventive use of props they recreate everything from Jaws to the classic spaghetti westerns, but there are other layers to this hugely entertaining, evocative show that are slowly revealed.
It’s a play, the duo have loved working on.
Written by Phil Differ - whose body of work spans everything from Naked Video and Rab C. Nesbitt to the classic Scotch and Wry – it grew out of the Oran Mor’s ‘A Play, A Pie And A Pint’ series, and has been moulded for Andy and Grant’s long established partnership.
Grant explained: “We like to do something different each year. We chatted about doing a sketch show for a change, put out some feelers, and Phil came back with this play.
‘’It was originally called Moving Pictures and done in a very different way with a third character and a different ending, so it has changed a lot.’’
The challenge taking it on tour is how to extend it beyond the very limited time slot given to all Fringe shows. Most clock at the festival in at 60 minutes or just slightly longer.
Rather than create extra scenes, the duo have added a post-show Q&A when the house lights go up, and they chat with the audience.
Andy explained: ‘’When we toured Kiss Me Honey Honey we added around 20 minutes - there was still more of the story to tell - but for Double Feature we made a conscious decision not to really extend it. We felt this already had its full story.
“You are conscious of time at the Fringe, and you do get into a .routine, so it’s nice to play with it and let it breathe a bit.
‘’And the Q&As have been great. It’s fun to interact with the audience.
“Phil actually hosted the first couple of nights while Stephen Jardine is doing the Kings’ dates – the others we’ve done ourselves.’’
The fact the show is packed with references to so many great movies always leads to at least one member of the audience pinning them down on their own favourite films of all time - and whether they got to choose the ones which are featured.
‘’The films featured were mainly from Phil, but we added a few from our own memories said Grant.
‘’We had The Godfather, and The Great Escape, and we wanted to all more modern classics such as Jaws, Star Wars and Rocky and that widened the scope - for Jaws it was a question of which scene do we do?
‘’And when folk ask what our favourite film it, it’s really hard to answer - there are just so many!’’
The Q&A wasn’t possible at the Fringe as theatre time was so limited with shows either side of their own daily performances –another reason to enjoy the tour round Scotland at a less frenetic pace.
‘’The intensity of the Fringe is incredible’’ said Grant.
‘’We love doing it, but this tour is much more relaxed.
“We’re doing weekends, working round Andy’s schedule with River City, and getting to see some great places.
“It has been absolutely lovely.’’
The duo wrap the tour back at the Kings, where they will also be in panto again this Christmas, but before then they have another Fringe show in the making.
“We do it because we really enjoy it,’’ said Andy. ‘
‘And we enjoy being on theatre together.
‘‘Before each show we have a routine and will go through some scenes just to get us into the zone, and then we’re off.’’
>> Double feature is at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews on Saturday. Ticket info from HERE Byre Theatre