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The Secret Weapon

By Bill Brotherston


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It's the week leading up to the annual "Big race'' for pigeon racers in the local mining communities. James Paton, ex miner, is expected to win this race as usual. However, his best friend, Andy Barker, has other ideas and sets out to reduce James's chances of winning by enticing young Alex Robertson, James's runner, to take part in a little bit of subterfuge. Andy is aware of Alex's fondness for his daughter, Katie, and pledges support for a developing relationship between the two, as the incentive for Alex to defect to him. Katie is still grieving over her mother's sudden death just a year ago. She seeks advice from James regarding her own feelings and the peculiar behaviour of her father. During their conversation she reveals things which James already suspects. She also discloses her friendship with a young man, Alistair Campbell, whom James had met earlier, trying to sell him encyclopaedias. James sees an opportunity to develop a plot of his own and enlists the young man's help. James's wife Helen, a keen supporter of her husband's activities, views all of the competitiveness with a "boys will be boys'' attitude. However, she has real concerns for James because of his health problems. Harry Bennett, fellow miner and good friend, adds to the humour of the situation. Although supporting Andy in the subterfuge, Harry tries to convince Andy that there is another solution which could be less damaging to the relationships of all concerned. He is also quick to point out that James is a wily adversary and not to be taken lightly. James does indeed surprise everyone with a totally unexpected twist when he reveals his secret weapon. This play offers twists and turns, and is a mixture of comedy, pathos and drama. The set can be simple or as complicated as the producer desires. The same applies to the sound effects. The play is written in a Scottish dialect, but could easily be transposed. This play, on its first main performance, won the Scottish Community Drama Association's district finals in February 2000. It won the trophy for the play best depicting Scottish life and character, at the Scottish Community Drama Association's divisional finals in April 2000.