THERE aren’t many times in an actor’s life when he’ll appreciate having a performance described as a little wooden.

But the exception is playing the role of Pinocchio, the tale of the puppet who comes to life.

Liam King is wallowing in the role right now at the Citizens’ Theatre Christmas story, portraying a character who makes the most incredible journey.

This version has been created by Robert Alan Evans (with assistance from Lu Kemp).

And it has fused Carlo Collodi’s 1883 original, The Adventures of Pinocchio, with the plot of the 1940 Disney film.

Liam and actor/associate puppet director Elisa De Grey, operate designer Rachael Canning’s perfectly lifelike little Pinocchio puppet.

So how do you set about playing a puppet boy? Did Liam think of Pinocchio as rather like an android from sci-fi films?

Did he watch the old movie?

“I didn’t go back to the film for ideas,” says the actor who grew up in Newton Mearns.

“When I opened the script I knew I wanted to find my own way to play this character.

“I love the idea of coming to a character with a clean slate rather than having preconceptions about how it could be done.

“And I tried to approach the story as if it’s the first time it’s ever been produced.”

He adds; “It’s really a new way of telling the story so many people have come to love.

“I think this version of Pinocchio will take audiences by surprise.”

The production also stars Gary Lilburn as Geppetto and sees Helen Katamba lend a sense of wonder as the narrating Cricket.

Meanwhile Stephanie Payne and the ever-compelling Andy Clark form a great double act as scheming hench-creatures, Cat and Fox.

The story is an allegory of course, about how lying and bad behaviour can be corrected, if there is a process of learning along the way. (A story which is all the more poignant give the more relevant given our recent election.)

Director Dominic Hill’s version accentuates the importance of revealing a sense of wonder in a child.

And the importance of guidance in life. Setting and example. And love.

“In terms of the emotional side of the acting, I way I look at Pinocchio is if he is discovering things for the first time,” says Liam.

“He’s like a baby who can mess up things quickly. He’s entirely innocent and naïve and constantly learning.

“And he’s not always successful.

“The journey I get to go on with him is this clever transformation into a real boy.”

Yet, he has to let the audience know he was once made of wood.

“Yes,” he says, grinning.

“I don’t want to give too much away but there are moments when I am the puppet as well.”

Liam reveals his own journey from “shy kid” to becoming a confident actor.

“When I was younger I had this idea I would be a stuntman,” says, the slight-framed actor, grinning of the sheer implausibility.

“Somehow, I just didn’t think it was possible to become an actor.

“But at St Ninian’s High school I became more involved in drama and youth theatre, and I got a sense acting could possibly be a career.”

Liam also attended PACE Youth theatre in Paisley, which proved to be a fantastic encourager.

“There were a lot of extroverts around me,” he recalls.

“But it was a really inspiring place to be. And if you are serious about acting they will help you.

“And then later when I was in my last year at high school, my drama teacher brought back the former pupil James McArdle (star of the James Plays) to talk to us.

“Seeing him gave me great encouragement.

“It was someone saying to me ‘You could do this.’”

Liam took off to drama college in London. “LAMDA was brilliant. We worked until 9pm most days but this gave me so much time to immerse myself in the world.

“Luckily, we were also able to work shifts at the bar in the college too, which helped with the money.”

It seemed a natural progression to apply for an internship at the Citz.

“I landed it while I was still at drama college and it was a fantastic feeling.

“I’d been going to the Citz since I was a little boy. I remember going to the Christmas shows and I loved Hansel and Gretel and Sleeping Beauty.

“I’d also go to some of the darker stuff such as Strindberg’s Miss Julie.

“This was my theatre. I felt I really was part of the place.”

Right now, he’s now actually appearing at the Citz, thanks to renovations.

“But the chance to play Pinocchio, in a new way, is just fantastic.”

Pinocchio, A Citizens’ Theatre production, the Tramway Theatre, until January 4.