Interview: Max Hastings, “I believed people like me didn’t belong on telly and on stages”

Tapped, which opened for previews at Theatre503 this week, is a play about connection and community. Written by Katie Redford and directed by Piers Black, the play follows Dawn (Jennifer Daley), Jen (Olivia Sweeney) and Gavi (Max Hastings) who meet at an amateur self-help group and who all share one commonality; they’re desperate for escapism.

Ahead of previews we caught up with Hastings to talk about the play, portraying Gavi and what he would say to his younger self.

The Understudy Q&A with Max Hastings

Hi Max, thanks for taking time out from preparations for Tapped to talk to us about the play. How have rehearsals been so far?

Hey! It’s been a great rehearsal process so far. Even though we’ve been hit by a couple of Covid outbreaks, we’ve powered through and formed a really tight bond, which takes the process to another level.

Tell us a little bit about your background – how did you become an actor?

I grew up in near Nottingham, and whilst I was at primary school, a teacher asked if anyone would like to enter the local Drama Festival with a monologue, and that they would get Friday afternoons off school to practice. I pretty much only did it for the afternoons off school, but ended up winning the competition too.

What can you tell us about Tapped and your role in it?

So I play Gavi, a lad from Nottingham who just wants to inspire his community to do something more with their lives. He sets up some motivational meetings from his garage, but the turnout isn’t great. We figure out how much of that positivity is just a brave face.

Max Hastings in rehearsals for Tapped at Theatre503. Photo courtesy of Bethany Cooper Productions

Is there anything that has surprised you about the play or your role since beginning the rehearsal process?

I’ve just underestimated the fact pure value of the little things in life that connect normal people together. Things like Aldi and Philip Schofield. The smallest things that everyone has a connection too, and are some of the funniest bits of the play.

Gavi is someone who wants to inspire his community – is that something that resonates with you? 

I come from a small mining town outside of Nottingham, and I suppose at some points I believed people like me didn’t belong on telly and on stages. I’d love to go back to younger Max and give him a stern talking-to about that.

What was it that attracted you to the production?

It’s always a bit of an honour to be part of a production based where I come from. Katie’s done a magic job with the play too, and I’m chuffed to be telling the story.

Finally, how would you describe Tapped to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?

No matter where you are at in your life, this play has a way of connecting with everyone. It is real and normal and manages to be moving and hilarious, both at the same time.

Tapped is at Theatre503 until 23 April