Drew Cochrane casts his eye over Largs Players' production of It's Behind You as the Players prepare for the British One Act Play Festival final in Perth this weekend...

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Normally, when I am asked to write a review of a local show I have a free hit at it. However, three professional adjudicators have already given five stars to Largs Players.

This weekend (July 12-13) sees the local club represent Scotland in the British One Act Play Finals being staged at Perth Theatre, and, for the convenience of the local audience the Players put on It's Behind You at Barrfields Pavilion Theatre once again.

I had the advantage of having already seen the comedy by Alan McHugh, directed by Maggie Cunningham, when it first appeared in February. At the time I predicted that It's Behind You would win the Scottish Festival final. It was outstanding.

When it went on to win the Western Division final at Castle Douglas, and then swept the boards at the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock, the acting duo of Matt Wilkin and Danny Lindsay had wowed four separate audiences, and the adjudicators from the annual Scottish Community Drama Association competition.

It's Behind You director Maggie Cunningham.It's Behind You director Maggie Cunningham. (Image: Largs Players)

Having personally appeared in scores of festival plays, with some reaching the Scottish finals, I know the challenges that the director, actors and technical team face to produce what requires to be a professional performance in 'am-dram'.

To be honest, you would think that Matt, as the Panto Dame, and Danny as his son (spoiler) were pros. The play, lasting about 50 minutes, is set in a theatre dressing room where the gags and slapstick rattle along at machine gun pace, but slow down markedly for the segments of pathos that catch you by surprise and a lump in the throat.

Funnily enough, the audience begin to respond as if it was actually a pantomime, breaking the 'fourth wall' which is not necessarily what the actors want. Mind you, considering that Danny as character Nicky, comes in wearing Daisy The Cow's head while Matt is in full Dame costume, as Norrie, is it any wonder they draw the onlookers in? And the play has twists and turns including a tongue-twisting monologue with a rubber chicken!

There are lines in the drama like "It's a calling, it's a craft", "there's no business like show business" and "this is comedy gold". And it was.

Matt Wilkin and Danny Lindsay star in Largs Players' performance of Alan McHugh's play, It's Behind You.Matt Wilkin and Danny Lindsay star in Largs Players' performance of Alan McHugh's play, It's Behind You. (Image: Largs Players)

Amazingly, Largs Players had not entered the one-act festival in over a decade, and had never won the Scottish final. Under Maggie Cunningham's direction, with Hugh Douglas as stage manager, they have now; and if It's Behind You gains top marks for stage presentation, acting, direction and dramatic achievement in Perth, they will beat the best from England, Ireland and Wales to be crowned UK champions.

As the club stated at the recent performance in Barrfields, it is dedicated to the legacy left by such club stalwarts as Alex McGregor, the Smeaton twins, Elsa Douglas, Jan Green, Joan Braniff and many others down the decades.