King's Theatre Edinburgh (venue)
18 May 2018 (released)
21 May 2018
Immensely popular double act Grant Stott and Andy Gray are stars in their own right in DOUBLE FEATURE, a new comedy written by Phil Differ and produced by Gilded Balloon. Filled with pathos and nostalgia, the play starts out as a cinematic trip down memory lane but eventually gives way to more personal issues – issues which have remained in the cupboards for too long.
Stott and Gray are Davy and Mikey, two film enthusiasts for which the once majestic Regal Picture House was part of their lives. Now the Regal has fallen victim to the usual demolishing plans – soon to be turned into a car park, or a Wetherspoons, or whatever. As Davy and Mikey remark, the good ole days of cinema are over! Grand picture houses make place for multiplex screens where smelly food is just as important as the feature presentation, while classic movies are replaced by franchises and big bucks. Indeed, nowadays the special effects are more important than the stars. Let’s face it, real movie stars no longer exist.
As if the general state of cinematic affairs weren’t bad enough, Davy and Mikey need to fulfil the sad task of clearing out the Regal, or what’s left of it: old movie posters, reels of film no longer in use, projectors covered in cobwebs.
Cue for discussing their fave movies and stars – anything from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Bond flicks, from Westerns starring the likes of Yul Brynner to The Exorcist, Jaws, When Eagles Dare, and what have you. There’s also a discussion as to why The Great Escape is an anti-Scottish film! While enthusing and arguing over movies galore, the two pals make ample use of broom and other props to re-enact some of their favourite scenes, occasionally only interrupted by the beep of a mobile phone which keeps ringing and ringing…
There’s a twist in this tale which only comes towards the end and even then you will only get it if you paid attention to the mention of one particular Hollywood star: Burt Lancaster and his ability to move across rooftops like a cat. It’s this particular Lancaster characteristic which prompted one of our two pals to try the same many moons ago – with consequences only revealed at the end.
DOUBLE FEATURE is a witty account of the golden age of cinema, when stars were looked upon as heroes and gained iconic status. As a lament over the loss of that golden age the play would have stood its ground alone, without the personal issues that surface at the end but which aren’t explored fully enough to add any considerable weight – au contraire the play comes across as somewhat unbalanced.
That said, Grant and Gray are clearly in their element and the after-show Q & A provided an added wee bonus – not least because Andy Gray informed us that his favourite movie (you know, the one you just kept playing again and again until the video tape wore out) was Mad Max while Mr. Stott’s favourite was Gregory’s Girl.
DOUBLE FEATURE played to great applause at last year’s Fringe and was on tour for the past six weeks. No doubt it will be performed again to an appreciative audience.