A play created and performed by teenagers who will be voting for the first time in the independence referendum is the "authentic voice" of young Scotland, the First Minister has said.

Alex Salmond was given a special preview of the politically-neutral play Now's the Hour when he visited Scottish Youth Theatre's headquarters in Glasgow.

The show features letters young voters have written to their future selves in 20 years' time, expressing their hopes and fears for the country whether there is a Yes or No vote.

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The play, which examines issues as wide-ranging as Trident, tuition fees and the economy, will have a three-week run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Mr Salmond described it as a "funny, fast-moving, emotional roller-coaster of a show that uses sketches, monologues and music to explore young people's attitudes to the referendum".

He said: "With a cast comprised entirely of teenagers who will be voting for the first time in the referendum, this play represents the authentic voice of a cross-section of young Scots who are actively engaging with politics.

"Rightly, they are exploring all of the different ideas, arguments and thoughts surrounding the debate before they make their decision on September 18."

Cast member Craig Edmond,16, from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, said the play was "important to the young people of Scotland because it gets across the many different arguments from both sides of the debate in a way that is balanced, relatable, humorous and easy to understand".

Fellow performer Imogen Craven, 19, from Newport, Fife, said: "Now's The Hour is an amazing way to learn about the debate and inspire other people to get engaged with the debate.

"It's important to young people as it provides them with a way into the debate without being intimidated by the masses of information that can be off-putting.

"It's hopefully a fun performance that informs and entertains."

Mary McCluskey, chief executive and artistic director of the Scottish Youth Theatre, said it would be the only show at the fringe "which represents the authentic voice of a cross-section of young Scots as they try to make sense of the claims and counter-claims surrounding the referendum debate".

She added: "Uniquely, it does this without taking a political position or telling the audience how to vote."

During the visit, Mr Salmond also welcomed 90 performers from 10 Commonwealth countries - Australia, Canada, England, India, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland - who have created the Tin Forest International Performing Company (TFIPC) for the Glasgow 2014 cultural festival.

They will be putting on pop-up performances of street theatre across Glasgow, telling the story of the city.

Mr Salmond said: "I am in no doubt that they will add a sense of spectacle, glamour and wow the crowds who come to Glasgow during the Games."