Popcorn at the Roxy
The tiny 36-seater, vintage-styled Roxy cinema in the north Somerset town of Axbridge in the Cheddar Valley, is one of the smallest cinemas in the UK. A non-profit community cinema, The Roxy puts on an eclectic mix of films as well as live music and stand-up but I think it’s worth a visit just to bask in its art deco/art nouveau/mid-century modern inspired glory.
When Juliet and David Maclay moved to Axbridge 18 years ago and started renovating a derelict Georgian coaching house, they discovered that the former coaching entrance sloped upwards (the rear is actually underground) making it the perfect shape for a cinema. A committee was set up (of course) and the Roxy was born. From the outside, only the Roxy programme on the doors of No 36 High Street gives a clue as to what lies behind.
You can buy your ticket from the booth in the ornately decorated foyer, designed by ex-Aardman Art director Sarah Laborde, and then through the mirrored door…
…into the tiny auditorium to sit in one of the 36 velvet seats, originally from the Colston Hall in Bristol, or on the squashy old sofa at the back (nudge, nudge).
While the furnishings might be vintage, the screen goes up and away at the touch of a button and state of the art sound system packs a punch (paying for the latter is one of the reasons for their current crowd funding campaign).
To the rear is a retro-styled seating area with a 1950s cocktail bar, table and chairs. When I visited, The Roxy had been rented out for a party the previous evening – I would love to have a party here – and it’s also used for live music, small theatre pieces and stand-ups.
Choice of films is eclectic (it’s chosen by the Roxy’s committee of community volunteers) with upcoming films including Jurassic World, Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos, Eden (Paris clubbing and electro music scene in the 90s), the Hungarian film White God, the animated Song of the Sea and Legend. Screening dates don’t seem to follow a pattern, so check the website.
Love the sound of the dinner and film nights that take place several times a year, where the food matches the movie. So, before they screen the 1996 movie Big Night in April, which is about a pair of Italian immigrants gambling on one special night to save their failing restaurant, diners will be outside in the courtyard, sitting under a large white canopy (same designer as Wimbledon Centre Court roof) eating a 3-course Italian-American supper.
When you come to The Roxy, drive past the little car park opposite the cinema (that’s private) and park in the car park just off the town square. If you want to eat before the film, there are three pubs all within a few minute’s walk from the cinema. Juliet recommends The Lamb for trad pub grub, The Crown for a good pizza or The Oakhouse Hotel for a sit down dinner.
The Roxy is a club but everyone’s welcome. Admission is £3.50 for adult members (annual membership is £10) and £6 for guests, although it’s donation-only for some films.
Axbridge itself is pretty darned cute too.