JAMIE Marie Leary has every right to feel blessed at the moment, having landed two great Dickensian roles, playing both Estella and Mrs Joe.

To add to the fun, and the challenge, Great Expectations is being re-told by the playwright Gary McNair and re-set in Scotland as Nae Expectations.

Leary is clearly delighted to be part of artistic director Andy Arnold’s final production before he steps off the Tron Theatre carousel for challenges elsewhere. Yet, the actor admits she had some misgivings.

Estella is a nasty, horrid, snooty young woman who treats poor Pip as something to be scraped from the sole of her mid-calf, laced-up boot. And Mrs Joe is a controlling, manipulating beast, the very manifestation of evil in a soiled pinny. Two all-too-horrid women to play at once?

“I spoke to Andy about the two baddies I’m playing, two women who are not likeable at all,” says the actor, grinning. “But he pointed out that there are many layers to the women. In fact, he made the point that both are essentially good. They are people who have had to suffer their own hardships, and in the process are taking it out on those around them.”

“We learn that Estella is misunderstood,” adds Leary. “And she is Miss Havisham’s (Karen Dunbar) puppet, so I think there’s a lot of learned behaviour in there. At the same time, Mrs Joe has lost her parents. She’s had to take on the responsibility for others, which is why she needs to be in control.”

Leary smiles as she admits she hasn’t read the novel. “I’ve seen a bit of the latest BBC drama, but I haven’t watched the films, or read the book. But then Gary McNair has written a great script, so I’ve got most of the story from that.”

McNair’s Nae Expectations sees young Pip (Gavin Jon Wright) try to make his way in the world as he works out who he is and what he wants to be. But on this personal journey he has to battle “monstrous adults, the class system and most of all his inner demons”. Yet, in spite of being regularly tortured and terrified, Pip remains surprisingly upbeat.

And of course, Pip’s positive countenance allows McNair to explore the comedic possibilities, contrasting it with the world that contains so much darkness and depression, laden with delicious sociopaths with a compulsion to manipulate others.

“The tone is funny, very Scottish, very Glaswegian,” says Leary, “but it also captures the really poignant parts of Dickens’ story. For example, it really suggests the feelings you get from coming home. Estella is Magwitch’s daughter who has been taken from him, and she gets to find herself, and her place. And we get to see how Pip can change given his new (aloof) circumstances.”

Leary admits she was always a little goofy as a schoolgirl in East Kilbride. “I liked to be funny, and I was always performing and so a drama teacher suggested I go to college to study acting, which I did, at Langside.”

The move has paid off with the talented actor landing a series of TV roles in BBC1’s Traces, Casualty, Two Doors Down and River City. She’s also appeared in a range of theatre productions, including working with the National Theatre of Scotland. “I’ve been so lucky since leaving drama college. I get a range of roles.”

The actor, who moved from Barbados with her parents when she was eight (“My mother is Barbadian, my dad is from Croy, and we moved to East Kilbride”) hasn’t come up against “too much” discrimination in the business. “When I was still at college the only person I noted of colour I’d seen in Scottish theatre was Adura Onashile. But now this is a much more diverse industry.”

Leary is also set to appear in this year’s Tron Theatre panto, Aganeza Scrooge. But meantime, is there any danger she will forget which character she is playing in Nae Expectations?

She laughs, “I did it the other day in rehearsals. Mrs Joe has the tickler (the cane) she uses to beat Joe, and I had it in my back pocket, to remind me of her character. Then when I went into a scene as Estella and realized I still had the tickler in my pocket, which really threw me.

“It’s just as well I’ll be having a full costume change, so when I’m Estella the tickler will be nowhere to be seen.”

Nae Expectations, The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, October 19-November 4, also features Simon Donaldson, Gerry Mulgrew and Grant Smeaton.

Don’t Miss: Quiz, which tells the story of the infamous Coughing Major TV show scandal of 2001; it is a “fictional imagination based on real events”. As an added twist, the play asks audiences to vote, using keypads on their seats, to determine whether Charles Ingram is guilty. Rory Bremner stars as Chris Tarrant, alongside Charley Web, Lewis Reeves and Mark Bento. The King’s Theatre, Glasgow, October 10-14,