It is one of the more famous attributes found in Scottish people - red hair.

But a new theatre production, due to tour Scotland, imagines a bleak future where redheads are persecuted and forced to live underground.

There are said to be approximately 650,000 redheads in Scotland, which is about one eighth of the country's population.

Loading article content

Famous redheads of the past and present include Karen Gillan, Robin Cook, Lulu, Tilda Swinton, Frankie Boyle, Alex McLeish, and Mary Queen of Scots, as well as Merida, the fictional heroine of Pixar movie Brave.

Indeed, Scotland has the highest percentage of people with the red hair gene in the world, but in REaD, created by Tidy Carnage theatre, they have been forced underground by vicious persecution.

The play, to be performed at venues in Greenock, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, St Andrews and Aberdeen from May 13-21, portrays how the hidden redheads of Scotland form a cabaret to express their feelings about their fate.

REaD, which also features text from writer Kevin Gilday, was initially developed at the now closed Arches venue in 2014 and was then developed for Mayfesto at the Tron in 2015.

It was then awarded further Creative Scotland funding for its tour.

In the play, redheads are segregated and under curfew.

They form the cabaret clubs as "an act of self-expression and resistance."

The show's creator, Allie Butler, said the play was initiated when she - who has dyed red hair - began talking about the issue with friends.

"Really it came from a series of conversations, with anecdotes, many from when they were younger and having red hair - good and bad, funny and unfunny," she said.

"The play is set in a dystopian parallel reality, it's not sci-fi, its more of a dark fairytail, where redheads have been ghettoised and persecuted."

The play includes song, dance, comedy and rap and touches on some of the more famous as well as little known redheads in history - either natural or dyed - including Cleopatra (who used henna), Boudica, Nell Gwynn, Kate Bush and others.

She added: "We play with this setting and classic cabaret to explore what it means to be part of a minority – and proud."

Ms Butler said that the play does not try to claim that redheads are as persecuted as other minorities in history.

"It is more a story of humans persecuting humans," she said.

"We are not trying to make a specific allegory and say that red haired people have had the worst time, not at all.

"But I do hope that people come and enjoy it and also think about some of the issues it raises, issues of belonging, and of betrayal."