MICHAEL Dylan is perfectly placed to appear in a play that asks how easily we abandon empathy with our fellow human beings as we chase goals.

The Cork-born actor once played the role of The Postman in Big Brother in 2013.

Of course, no one in the House knew he was really an actor, hired to wind up the housemates and test their personal depths.

We talk of that at some length over lunch in the Tron Theatre bar, but first he explains his current role in The Ugly One questions how easily we can lose connection with reality.

The play, by German writer Marius von Mayenburg tells the story of Lette, a man who has invented a plug that will change the plug world forever.

But he can’t present the plug at the world plug convention because he is hideously ugly.

So he’s plug ugly. But hasn’t been aware of it? “Yes, says Dylan, smiling.

“But when he realises this he reckons on getting plastic surgery. And it’s so successful he becomes one of the most handsome men in the world.”

As he transforms from Boris Karloff into Bradley Cooper, Lette finds everyone, including a 73 year-old female millionaire and her gay son, queueing to have sex with him. “He ends up cheating on his wife. He forgets about the plug,” says the actor, smiling. “It’s asking what being really beautiful means.

“Lette is the only truly beautiful person in the play, until he starts believing in his own hype.”

Dylan plays two characters in this play which also features Helen Katamba, Martin McCormick and Sally Reid, which seems to cross genres between farce and absurdist. “Both of them are called Karlmann. One of them is the assistant to Lette, and the other is the son of Fanny.”

He adds, with a mischievous grin; “There are two Fannys in the play; one of them is Young Fanny and the other Old Fanny. So you get the idea.”

I do. This is play is a clever satire about our culture’s obsession with beauty and success, but it’s also bonkers? “Old Fanny likes to have her way with men. That’s the sort of rabbit hole we like to go down. It’s mental. And it’s fun.”

Dylan once went down the rabbit hole that is Big Brother, an arena that tests and reveals character. “I’d watched it since it started and I loved the psychology of it,” he says of his choosing to appear in character. “I love watching how people behave, and I was offered the chance to go in for nine days and play with people.

“They (the producers) offered a rough idea of what my character would be, a postman, but as an actor I had to have a backstory for him. I created him in my head and when I went in I turned up my emotions, became even more shy and apologetic than I am in real life.

“Yet, at the same time my job was to stir up the paranoia and get them going at each other.”

Dylan was so successful playing the Secret Actor he was asked to stay on beyond his contract. But he’d had enough. “The character was working but in the last two days I found it hard because I began to forget about the outside world.

“Your mind begins to play tricks on you. One day I began wondering ‘Maybe they’re turning on me.’ I really had to remind myself I was an actor. And my biggest fear was I would come out and think ‘Maybe I wasn’t acting at all there. Maybe that was me.’

“You see, when you’re in the house there’s no escape; there are mirrors in the kitchen, everywhere.”

Did he feel he’d ever gone too far in the manipulation? “There was one point where I had to give the housemates labels, like Most Unhygienic. And I had to give that label to (digital media student) Wolfy. I said at one point in the Diary Room if I do this to her today she’s going to break.’ They assured me they were keeping an eye on her but sure as hell I gave her the label and she bawled her eyes out for two days. She didn’t know it was the public who’d voted to give her that label.”

Michael Dylan’s arrival into acting began as a 12 year-old. “My parents had separated at the time and think sending me to drama classes was more about my mother trying to get me and my brother out of the house.

“I did the classes for about a year and it wasn’t until I was in Fourth Year at school I made my re-entry. A play was being staged and the drama teacher asked who wanted to audition. I put my hand up. And there I was playing a woman, in a dress, and I got the p*** taken out of me for the next two years. But I realised this was what I wanted to do with my life.”

Not dress up as a woman, and wear a bad wig as such. “No, play leading roles.” But how did he cope with the mickey-taking? “I wasn’t popular at school anyway. I was very shy nervous little boy. This was the other reason I enjoyed acting. It was a chance to express myself, in using someone else’s voice it helped me to find my own. I got to be sad, or angry.”

He adds; “Growing up in Ireland you’re not really taught to express your feelings. But when you’re acting people will come up and say; ‘You’re very talented. You’re very funny. You’re really beautiful.” His timing is perfect as he adds “Okay, I made up that last bit.”

Dylan is a major comedy talent and has worked extensively at the Traverse Theatre and the Tron. But how does an Irishman become a Scots comedy star? (The actor picked up the Best Male Actor Award at the International Martin McDonagh Festival in Russia.) “After graduating from the Guildhall drama college in London, I came to Scotland to work on Ulysses for Andy Arnold at the Tron Theatre, and never left. I love it here. I think Scotland is putting on more new material, as well as the classics. And London is more cutthroat. Here, people are more likely to help you out.”

It’s not hard to telly Dylan is excited about appearing in The Ugly One, to explore the notion of vanity and greed and self-delusion.

The Big Brother experience certainly served to heighten his curiosity about the human condition. “And my mother liked it,” he says, smiling. “She could say to herself ‘He’s not made it onto Coronation Street but at least he’s achieved something’.”

The Ugly One, The Tron Theatre, July 4 – 20.