Tapped, by BAFTA Award-winning playwright Katie Redford, will run at London’s Theatre503 April 5–23. Directed by Piers Black, the story revolves around Gavi (Max Hastings), who wants to change his community for the better through his motivational meetings. However, the only attendees are Jen (Olivia Sweeney) and her mother, Dawn (Jennifer Daley), who bring their own unique problems and bickering. The comedy provides a witty examination of mental health and how to better understand the barriers we put on ourselves.
I had a fun Zoom session with Max Hastings (The Machines That Built America, Masters of the Air) to get his thoughts about Gavi’s interests, shortcomings, and well-intentioned projects.
Gavi is on a crusade against people staying home and binging The Great British Bake Off. Do you personally watch the TV show?
I don’t. (laughs) If I’m at home with my mum — she loves it, my grandma loves it. I watch it with them, but I don’t sit down on my own to watch it.
It’s also revealed that Gavi likes Spandau Ballet. Do you listen their tracks?
Not for a long time.
There’s a light-bulb moment in the play that maybe Aldi sells everything you’d ever need. What’s your go-to item at Aldi?
I hate the thought of not bringing my dog something. It’ll be the weirdest toy, frisbee, or whatever. There’s always something new at Aldi for anyone.
Behind-the-Scenes Fun at Theatre503
Can you tell us what you’ve loved about working with Theatre503?
It’s my first theatre job since coming out of drama school. I’ve only done television. At Theatre503, it’s intimate and small. It doesn’t feel like a huge leap from TV. Everything feels like it’s so much more real, genuine, and close. That’s something you don’t get with a huge theatre. The barriers are broken down a bit and that’s nice to work with.
What’s unique about Katie Redford’s script?
Katie and I are from the same town. When I first read the script, it felt so easy to read and a bit like home. With some of the slang and little phrases, it feels like it’s written for me or I could’ve written it myself.
What’s it been like diving into the script?
It’s been such a laugh so far. [Jennifer Daley], who plays Dawn, is a phenomenal lady with the most incredible stories from her life. In the middle of a scene, she’ll say, “That line just reminded me about this.”
Then she’ll talk for 10 minutes about a story from 10 years ago or back at school. It cracks me up every time. Every bit is so relatable.
What do you like about playing Gavi?
Gavi is feeling a bit stuck in his hometown. He realizes that perhaps everyone else feels the same way. He wants to be the boy that changes everyone and makes their dreams come true! He starts motivational self-help meetings in his garage and he uses much of what we see online at the minute: positive podcasts, Instagram posts, quotes, and mindfulness. What I find interesting is how much of that is a front for what’s going on. It’s nice to play Gavi’s two modes: public speaking Gavi and what’s-actually-going-on Gavi.
Do you think he’s pulling from too many resources?
It is absolutely knackering to play Gavi because there’s so much in his head. It’s a constant whirling of quotes, exercises, and techniques to be positive.
How would you characterize Gavi’s relationship with Jen?
I love how innocently obsessed he is with her. It’s from his heart that he wants Jen to do well. There’s something nice about it that is an honest seed of a relationship.
“The Connection Between Real People”
What’s an example of a barrier we often put on ourselves?
Staying in the same job you don’t like or in a relationship that’s not working are barriers Gavi tries to get people to break though. It might not always be the best advice, but all three characters in the play want to become unstuck.
Approaching our problems from an angle of positivity 24/7 may not be the right answer. What’s a hopeful message in Tapped?
There is a subtle struggle with mental health that doesn’t get portrayed too much. In Tapped, the hope in dealing with that is all about the connection between real people. The conversations, small things, and coming together — rather than focusing on what separates them all — are ultimately what makes them more happy. When they come together, they have an understanding that every single one of them has their own thing going on, which is okay. Community is important in that.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Theatre503’s website.