MEGHAN Tyler, all wild hair and wide eyes, attacks her chicken burger in the Tron Theatre café with the passion she reveals in her latest theatre role, starring as Lizzie Bennet in a new reworking of Pride and Prejudice (*Sort Of).

And when you look at the actress’s cv, this young woman seems determined to swallow up life in large chunks. One of the hottest acting talents in Scotland, Tyler is also a talented playwright having been confirmed recently as part of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast’s New Playwrights Programme.

Outside of her professional life, Tyler is profoundly happy with fellow actor David Rankine. And relations with her parents and siblings are as fine and dandy as Mr Darcy’s top coat.

So far so great. Yet, Tyler, who grew up in Newry, reveals there are days when she can’t get out of bed. “I’ve got depression,” she explains. “It’s an issue for so many. One in four people suffer from mental health issues and in Northern Ireland, 50 per cent of young people admit to having mental health issues.”

Tyler believes it’s time to tackle mind issues head on. “I will talk about it because I feel there’s still such a stigma attached to it. You can walk into work and say to your boss; ‘I’ve got a really sore throat,’ but people are unlikely to declare they’re having a bad mental health day. They’re too afraid.”

Tyler can in fact. But then she’s working in an industry that’s perhaps more accommodating than most. (Which you would hope in a business that seeks to explain the human condition.) Having said that, to declare ongoing depression to any employer – even in the arts - is perceived to be dangerous. Last week former River City actor Tom Urie said he was concerned that in talking about his mental health issues he was worrying off casting directors.

Meghan Tyler however is committed to making people think more about those whose moods can plunge their minds into darkness. “I want to help change perceptions,” she says. “One way is by writing a play about it. Right now, I’m working on Medicine, with director Paul Brotherston, and it’s an exploration of teenage mental health and mother-daughter relationships. I can bring my own experiences of mental health issues to the piece and it’s running in August at the Hope Theatre in London. I’m really excited about it.”

The excitement Tyler enjoys however is sometimes crushed by overwhelming sadness. And the danger is the depressed person will withdraw, which is self-defeating given others can sometimes point towards reasons for optimism, accentuate positives?

“Yes, it’s a cruel illness. You should talk, get a support network, all of that, but it’s hard to do that because as soon as you have a bad day you beat yourself up with the notion no one will want to speak to you anyway.”

Tyler smiles as she explains how she manages to get through a bad day. “I have a points system,” she says. “I’ll say to myself. ‘Right, Meghan, if you can get out of bed in the morning you’ll get three points. And if you eat something you’ll get ten points.’ It’s a weird way of getting going but it sort of helps.”

How many points make a decent day? “I don’t know,” she laughs. “I’ve never totalled them all up. But sometimes, it’s just about treating yourself, trying to run a bath, for example, doing some form of self-care. It can be putting on a face mask. Sometimes, it’s just about putting on a shitty film.

The actress has suffered from depression for 12 or 13 years. Was there a trigger point? “No, it just came about. It’s a chemical thing. And you just have to try and manage each day.” She adds with a wry smile; “There’s nothing worse than when things are going really well and you wake up and it’s there. You think, ‘Come on! Why now?”

Part of the self-help therapy is to take ownership of the illness. For example, Tyler says she will now fill in an Equal Opportunities form honestly. “I will now tick the box that says I have a mental health problem. And when I come into rehearsals I’ve trained myself to say to a director, ‘Look, I’m having a bad mental health day.”

Does this honesty make her feel vulnerable? “Totally,” she says. “But you have to do it.” Does tapping into the darkness, dealing with a mind that flits from happy to sad, inform her as a writer? “Yes it does,” she says. “I think people in the Arts are more prone to mental health issues, which perhaps means it’s easier for us to open up. But for the rest of the world, it’s hard for them to vocalise it. Having said that, when I have a bad day I don’t really write.”

Right now, Tyler’s mind is in a great place, gliding across the Tron Theatre in Glasgow where she’s appearing as Lizzie Bennet, Jane Austen’s outspoken feminist who was two hundred years ahead of her time.

The play is a delightful reworking of Austen’s work, with clever nods to modernity. It takes as into the social mores of the time, it takes us into the heart of relationships, and all too cleverly suggests a theme of la plus ca change. What’s not to like about a very clever re-write that features songs such as Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain and the Partridge Family’s I Think I Love You?

The posters for the production, now on display throughout Glasgow feature Tyler’s Lizzie Bennet with a drawn-in moustache. Clearly, Isobel McArthur’s reworking doesn’t take itself too seriously. And Pride and Prejudice (*Sort of) sees Austen’s famous work reduced from 117 people in the book to just five. All of them played by women.

Tyler seems perfectly cast as the knowing, feisty character who somehow manages to engineer other people’s lives. “She’s spirited,” says the actress, grinning in agreement. “Lizzie is a bit of a dream to play, and she goes through so much with her family and the societal pressures of the time.”

Jane Austen’s novel was published in 1813, a world in which most women could only see a future ahead if they managed to bag a man. “There are still elements of this today,” maintains Tyler. “From an early age young women are still being told the Disney story; ‘Go out there and find your Prince and marry him.’ And there is still a sense of pressure on women; why aren’t you getting married? Or having kids? And the economic argument (for marrying a well-off man) is still being made.”

She adds, laughing; “Your parents are still likely to say ‘Why are you marrying an actor?’ But that’s because it’s still seen to be a positive to marry someone who has got money. That suggests you are sorted.”

It seems this is a conversation Tyler has had recently with her parents? “I think to marry someone just because they are well off is not the right thing to do,” she says, laughing.

It’s not a surprise Meghan Tyler’s life is a little unconventional. Tyler grew up with her mum in a single parent family in the south eastern corner of Ulster. “I think it was really brave for her to initiate the separation with my dad because coming from a Catholic town this was unusual. My mum worked as Education Welfare Officer – her jobs was to hunt down kids who didn’t go to school – and meanwhile she took care of me, and did a really good job of it.

“She was very supportive of me carrying out my passions, going into acting, and meanwhile she had to work extra jobs to get by.”

Both her parents went on to have new relationships. “I’ve got four siblings,” she explains, “two from my mum’s next marriage, a brother and a sister, and two half-brother’s from my dad’s relationship. I see them when I can. My parents are really good at bringing them to shows I’m in they can watch.”

Tyler has worked constantly in Scotland since she graduated from what was the RSAMD, attracting great reviews for work such as The Crucible. Yet, she wasn’t a singing-dancing child who had to become a performer at all costs. “I didn’t decide to become an actor, I was just good at it,” she recalls, grinning. “My high school Theatre Studies tutor was so encouraging and acting was a place where I felt most comfortable.” She adds, smiling; “It’s fun and I love it to bits. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Tyler resolutely embraces feminism and as a writer her work is funny, fiery and provocative, reflected in her most recent play, The Persians, in which she appeared as a DUP politician.

But what of Jane Austen? Did she go along with the notion women couldn’t really function without a man? “I think Jane Austen challenged this notion in her novels,” says Tyler. “For example, in Pride and Prejudice we become aware that Lizzie was being asked to marry repeatedly - but she would turn down her suitors.

“This was seen to be a humungous decision on her part, given her marrying could have saved the family which was facing poverty. I really I think Jane Austin’s position was that of feminist.”

The feminist voice in this re-booted Pride and Prejudice opens with the maids telling of life in Austen times and they reappear throughout in the form of a Greek chorus, offering their interpretation of the action. And helping to condense the storyline.

The play allows Tyler to offer up a new even more emboldened Lizzie Bennet. “Well, she has a Northern Ireland accent,” says the actress, grinning. “I think the Northern Ireland voice works and helps pull away from the RP convention. It’s about revolutionising a classic text with a modern spin. For example, I’ll be wearing a traditional dress (she wears two in fact, the dirty grey one being that of the maid) but at the same time wearing Doc Martens.

“But you know, we’re wearing the characters quite likely. We’re trying to create something here that’s inspiring and different and breaks lots of rules and conventions. And we want to get to the clash between the past and modern day.”

Yet, the play also heightens the notion women are still contained by men. “There is a lot to be said about the likes of feminism and toxic masculinity and poverty.”

Tyler adds; “We think that people who read the classic text will love this show. And the new production means it will be accessible to a younger audience who don’t know Austen at all.”

Does getting into character, such a positive character as Lizzie Bennet, (bonnet or not) help the Tyler mind to remain positive? “I don’t see acting in that way,” she reflects. “I see acting as playing, as storytelling. I’m still aware of being me. So the depression doesn’t switch off or go away. In fact, I think getting totally into character is a dangerous way to go because acting isn’t real life. It’s entertainment.”

She adds, “Look, whatever process you go through to do your (acting) job, that’s amazing. But I think something like Method Acting can be quite disrespectful to other actors by, for example, insisting on being called by your character name. All of that to me is really a bit of bollocks.”

Yet, Tyler loves to work. Acting or writing. The involvement helps with her mood. “Yes, it’s about keeping going,” she says. “And I’m so lucky to be doing a job I love.”

Has the actress looked at film to see how Lizzie Bennets have appeared in the past, played by the likes of Greer Garson, Jennifer Ehle and Keira Knightley? “I’ve seen a couple of films, but for this play I’ve tried to look only at the text,” she says, with a knowing grin. “Otherwise, I think your brain could be mean to you and you’d start comparing yourself to the other Lizzies.”

This production simply doesn’t compare. And that’s an endorsement, certainly not a criticism. The show reveals how a feminist tale of women striving to survive in a male dominated world can be told with verve and fun.

And there isn’t a bonnet to be seen in the entire production. “No bonnets,” says Tyler, grinning, as she grabs her bowl of chips to eat on the move. “And I have to add it’s never been an ambition of mine to wear one.”

Pride and Prejudice, (*Sort of), the Tron Theatre, Glasgow until July 14 also features Christina Gordon, Hannah Jarrett-Scott and Tori Burgess.