GEMMA McElhinney has perfected the art of making herself invisible.

Especially on trains. What the actor does is plug in a set of earphones (even if they’re not connected to music) bury her face deep in a book and cover herself in a cloak of indifference.

That way, no one can see her. No one will speak to her.

And it almost always works. “But just recently, coming up from London, a guy got on the train and plonked his tinnies down on the table in front of me,” she recalls with a wry grin.

“As soon as I saw the tins go down I knew he was good to go and sure enough, a few hours later he was trollied and then started to speak to me.”

Until that point, McElhinney, who recently starred in rave culture film Beats, had been hugely successfully in avoiding conversation/chat-up.

“Later as he was leaving he was rude to another girl - he told her to move out of the way - but then her boyfriend whacked him, which produced a bloody nose.”

The Glasgow-born actor grins; “Sometimes it’s best not to speak to people on public transport.”

We’re on the subject of a strangers-on-a-train scenario because that’s the premise of this week’s new Oran Mor stage play, Do Not Press This Button.

Alan Bissett’s play sees McElhinney star as train traveller Maria who is joined by one man, Ben ( David Rankine) and a little later, Terry.

The story premise prompts immediate questions; how should a female react to the arrival of a male presence in such an intimate environment?

And are women ultra-cautious, given the focus on predatory men in recent times? Or is there a natural predisposition to not talking to someone of the opposite sex on a train?

“Yes, it comes from experience,” the actor explains. “The experience of being annoyed by nuisances. The women in the audience will offer up a collective groan when they see the scene being played out in the play. We’ve all been there.”

McElhinney is reluctant to offer too much detail on the play, fearful of “revealing Alan Bissett’s layers” (which is unfortunate when you have 800 words to file and curious readers to satisfy).

But she does offer that Maria is an anthropologist. Her life is spent studying humans. Yet while she is naturally suspicious of Ben when he sits down, she begins to converse after the lawyer uses a clever hook to pull her into conversation.

Yet, Maria is also one to be watched. “You are never sure whether she is truly engaged in the conversation - or she is indulging herself in an experiment. You are never sure if she’s switched off from the work.”

When the third character arrives, the straightforward, blokey Terry, he facilitates communication between the existing pair. But then realises he is out of his depth. Unfortunately, Terry doesn’t have a degree in subtext.

So what happens next, Gemma?

“I can’t say any more,” she says, grinning through a tight-lipped smile. Okay, but offer some clues. Is there a hint of romance between Maria and Ben? “Yes, there’s a hint of a connection. A couple could be arguing, yet that could really mean they fancy each other.

“On the other hand, sometimes people who like someone can’t even meet their eye. But strangers sort of suss each other out.”

Ah, but do they? The actors isn’t going to spill the beans but she does offer detail on when she decided to become a performer.

“I once did a school show in which I played the Innkeeper, but was gutted I didn’t get to really dress up with the robes and headgear like Mary Magdalene.”

She laughs of her quiet desperation. “It was attention seeking. It happens when you’re the youngest in the family. But I guess I knew I wanted to act from that moment.”

Acting however can be a fickle bedfellow. McElhinney had the chance to reveal her talent in films Wild Rose and Outlaw King.

And in theatre she has shone since landing a graduate programme at Dundee Rep in plays such as Mother Courage, and Oran Mor’s Divided, offering a deliciously consistent line in damaged creatures.

Yet, she admits the business tests the soul to the limit. “I can see why it’s hard for someone to stay motivated when you haven’t worked for six months,” she says in knowing voice.

McElhinney indeed walked away at one point, to London in fact. “I worked in a London hospital as a physio assistant. I was was interested in how the body works. But I was pulled back in by (an offer to appear in the Vanishing Point production) Interiors.

“It was like splitting up with someone and missing them.”

The actor adds, smiling; “The best way to get a part is to arrange to go on holiday, attend one of your mates’ weddings.

“You can guarantee a job offer will come along at the same time.”

Do Not Press This Button, Oran Mor, until Saturday.