ANNA Russell-Martin can smile now as she recounts her fairly recent airport security nightmare.

But at the time it was scary and intimidating.

About to begin an American holiday with her boyfriend, a zealous custom’s officer asked the actor her boyfriend’s birthday, claiming he needed absolute confirmation they were a couple.

Russell-Martin was dumbstruck.

“I didn’t know the answer. And the fact I didn’t made me really worried. Would it prevent us entering the States?

“Luckily my boyfriend knew my date of birth so we were allowed to pass through. But I hate to think how difficult it could have all been if he hadn’t.”

The story, apart, from suggesting Russel-Martin to be a pretty rubbish girlfriend, (“I am not!” she maintains, grinning) highlights the pressures airport staff can put travellers under.

But the Coatbridge-born actor’s American airport predicament is nothing compared to the trauma featured in her latest play, the Toy Plastic Chicken, described as “a tale of degradation and revolt.”

Russell-Martin explains; “Playwright Uma Nada-Rajah wrote this play based on her own experience. It tells of Rachel (Neshla Caplan), who tries to take a plastic chicken she had bought as a daft present for a friend, through airport security. But she doesn’t put it through the scanner and this causes malfunctions and alerts.”

What follows is that the two security personnel have very different thoughts on how to deal with the chicken issue.

READ MORE: Still Game's Gavin Mitchell returns to Casablanca at Oran Mor

“I play Emma, who hates her job and just can’t be bothered with hassle. But the other security person, Ross, (David James Kirkwood) is essentially an over-reactive jobsworth. The pair get it all wrong, then try to cover their tracks – and chaos kicks in.”

Nada-Rajah’s story has been written up as a black comedy. But the darker sub-text is one of degradation. Rachel is ethnic. And set to meet an Iranian man.

The strong suggestion is that she would not have been detained and subjected to a strip search had she been white.

“The story is more about the jobsworthy element, but race is certainly a factor,” says Russell-Martin.

Anna Russell-Martin’s casting is part of a continuous remarkable success story. Since leaving the RCS in July she has worked constantly, attracting great crit in Bunny at the Tron Theatre and landing an internship at the Citizens’, appearing in the likes of A Doll’s House and Cyrano de Bergerac.

Thankfully. Russell-Martin has never considered life outside performance.

READ MORE: New Oran Mor star Craig reveals his past career days of broken noses and ribs.

“I’ve been tap dancing, acting, singing almost since I left the womb,” she says, smiling.

The first step on the ladder was The Dance School of Scotland. “It was like the musical Fame - singing and dancing all the time. I loved it.”

But a dance teacher had suggested real potential as an actor. The RCS agreed.

“I think I’m an actor who can do a bit of singing and dancing rather than the other way around.”

Was there a family directive to move into the arts? “Not at all. My two brothers became footballers. My parents have ordinary jobs.”

Russell-Martin’s run is set to continue. The 21-year-old will appear at the Fringe in children’s show Colonel Mustard.

But she’s aware acting life comes with built-in disappointment. “My friends tell me I’m going to get such a shock when I realise I don’t have a job to go to.” She smiles; “I know I’ll need other work to support myself. I may study be a Zumba teacher, or I could be a nanny. I love kids.”

For the moment, she’s focused on playing an apathetic security worker. But what happened to the poor boyfriend whose birthday you hadn’t a clue about, despite seeing him for several months? “We’re no longer together,” she offers with a wry smile, perhaps not surprisingly. “But now every time I go on holiday with someone I make sure I know their birthday.”

Toy Plastic Chicken, Oran Mor, Glasgow until Saturday.

Read more of today's top Glasgow stories.