A Footscray actor has been channelling his inner chimpanzee in readiness for his latest production.

Rory Kelly is taking the title role in Red Stitch’s Australian premiere of Trevor, a play exploring the twilight years of a former showbiz chimpanzee, who lives with his widowed keeper far from the Hollywood glitz and glamour he once knew.

Kelly was immediately drawn to Nick Jones’ story and says he has never worked on a show like it.

“I’m an actor trying to be a chimp, who is trying to be a man. As a performer it would be hard not to be attracted to this show,” he said.

“The language is amazing … on so many planes. It has the comedy element, the drama element, then halfway through, a cabaret element. All the while there is this underlying grand human story.”

Kelly says the fact Trevor can talk, but nobody else can understand, means there are three stories happening at any one time – the story humans think is happening, the story Trevor thinks is happening, and the story the audience knows is happening.

Preparing for the role has involved gleaning what he could from the story of Travis, a chimpanzee who viciously mauled his keeper’s friend and served as inspiration for Trevor.

“I’m fascinated by animals and interested in what makes them tick,” Kelly said.

“I’ve got two cats called Fish and Chips, they spend hours just sitting in the doorway staring at you, clearly trying to make eye contact with you, then they just go berserk and do these spectacular things.”

Directed by Denis Moore, Trevor runs from July 26 to August 26 at Red Stitch Actors Theatre, St Kilda. Booking: www.redstitch.net or 9533 8083.