WHAT do you do as a 12 year-old boy when your school world is descending into anarchy?

Schoolmates have become little sharks feeding on the blood of fresh teachers, they’re motivated by little more than creating chaos and disruption in class. They’re even making the new French teacher sob uncontrollably.

That was certainly the situation Ronan Doyle was faced with when he turned up for the first day of term at the very nice Bell Baxter High School in Fife.

“I didn’t want to hang around with the ‘cool’ kids,” he recalls with a wry smile.

“By ‘cool’ I mean bad. And by ‘bad’ I mean those who wanted to throw stuff at other people or rip young teachers apart.

“I’d be talking to friends from primary school and asking ‘Why are your behaving like this lot?’ and the reason was obvious. It was peer pressure.

“As a result, the first four years of high school weren’t great.”

But help was at hand. Doyle’s dad (a psychologist, thankfully) came home one night with a pamphlet in his hand and slapped it on the table.

“It was an application for Perth Youth Theatre,” he says.

“I looked at and said ‘Great, what do you want to me do with this?’ He said ‘Fill it in,’ and I figured that wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.”

Doyle took himself to youth theatre.

“I was shy walking in but everyone was so nice it didn’t take me too long to fit in. And I was suddenly with all these like-minded people.”

He adds, smiling; “I was now doing exactly what I wanted to do, twice a week, and I was having the best time of my life. And I never , ever told the kids at school what I was doing up the road.”

Later, on a drama teacher encouraged Doyle to consider a full-time career in acting and drama college beckoned.

Now, at 22, he’s living in Glasgow, has an agent and has landed his first Oran Mor play.

Doyle stars alongside Billy Mack and Janette Foggo in The Scurvy Ridden Whale Men.

“It tells the story of Mrs Humphrey, who was a real person who lived in Orkney in the early 19th century, but writer Steven Dick has conjured a story around her and a couple of whale fisherman.

“It’s 1836 and my character Peter, this youthful, energetic boy has been hunting whales with Captain ‘Neptune’ Reid in the freezing waters of the Arctic . These hunts have left the men scrawny, filthy and scurvy-ridden and they come to recover in Mrs Humphrey’s boarding house. But they don’t leave.”

What? Does she kill them? Does she love bite them to death? Does she make it so delightful to be in her boudoir they never want to pull on a fisherman’s polo neck ever again?

“You’ll have to see the play to find out,” says Doyle, grinning. “But Steven Dick traces the lives of these men who would bring whales back to the likes of Dundee or Kirkcaldy. It’s a world of Moby Dick that actually took place off the coast of Scotland.”

The Scurvy Ridden Whale Men is a dark comedy. “There are parts you will be watching and think ‘I shouldn’t really be laughing at this’ but you will laugh. Trust me. You can’t not laugh.”

Yet, the central theme of the play is grief. Could Doyle access grief from personal experience?

“That wasn’t too hard,” says the young actor. “I was very close to my late grandfather. I remember once he had a broken arm, but he still managed to play pirates with me and my brother, wearing the eye patch, carrying the scimitar, the lot.

“During the game he fell back into a hedge and couldn’t get back up, but he just laughed and said there was nothing he could do about it.”

He adds; “The thing about acting is you find yourself bringing up thoughts of people like my grandfather.

“Suddenly all this emotion comes to the surface when you least expect it. There is a moment we are reminded why we are grieving – but that’s why I love the job, this exploration of emotions. It’s what makes us human.”

Doyle clearly loves acting. But what of career plans?

“You have to be stupid to be an actor,” he says, grinning. “But what I’ve worked out is that I want to be on stage. I want to earn enough money to be able to support myself and do what I love.”

So he was right to keep away from the ‘cool’ kids after all? “Completely,” he says, smiling. “I found myself in the right place.”

• Oran Mor, Glasgow, until Saturday, then the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, March 26-30.