It's an actor's life to move from job to job, but Danny Sapani could be forgiven for feeling exhausted after his acclaimed run as King Lear.

If anything 'though, the Hackney-raised actor has been galvanised by playing Shakespeare's mad king - and is raring to inhabit the role of foul-mouthed, irascible Pops Washington at Hampstead Theatre.

"I seem to be handling this," says the 53-year-old.

"I don't know if this is a final last whirlwind before I disappear to nowhere, but I am in the flow at the moment. I feel inspired and grateful for the opportunity to keep working."

Hackney Gazette: Danny Sapani played King Lear at The Almeida in Feb and March Theatre in Danny Sapani played King Lear at The Almeida in Feb and March Theatre in (Image: Marc Brenner)

Sapani finds "many similarities" between Lear and Pops in Stephen Adly Guirgis' Between Riverside and Crazy.

"It's an interesting progression to go from something that heavy and well-known to something new and fresh that deals with a similar character but takes it in a different direction," he says.

His Lear at The Almeida notched up four and five star reviews and was, he says: "amazingly received across the board" and a "joy to work with (director) Yael Farber."

Hackney Gazette: Between Riverside and Crazy runs at Hampstead Theatre from May 3 to 15 JuneBetween Riverside and Crazy runs at Hampstead Theatre from May 3 to 15 June (Image: Hampstead Theatre)

But how is an Olde English king similar to an ex NYPD cop living in a rent controlled Manhattan apartment?

"They are both cantankerous old men who go from having huge egos at the beginning of the play to having some sort of grace or humility at the end. It's the journey of every human from birth to death, and to explore it feels artistically satisfying."

Like Adly Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the A Train, and In Arabia We'd All Be Kings, the Pulitzer-prizewinning tragi-comedy captures a particular place and vernacular, as a love-letter to the seedy underbelly of his native city.

Shot while on duty by a white rookie cop, Pops has an ongoing lawsuit against the NYPD, and a chaotic apartment full of family, ex cons and reformed drug addicts.

Hackney Gazette: With Tiffany Gray in rehearsals for the play by Stephen Adly GuirgisWith Tiffany Gray in rehearsals for the play by Stephen Adly Guirgis (Image: Johan Persson)

"He is running this place into the ground with all these n'eer do wells," says Sapani.

"Hanging over his head is the landlord wants rid of him, and the city wants to close his case."

But amid the lies, talk of money, and trying to do the right thing in a corrupt system, Pops is wrestling with mortality and redemption.

"There's the fear of death. Fear not to have achieved all the things you wanted to. It sounds morbid and sad, but the way Stephen tells this story is hugely entertaining and incredibly funny.

"A bit like August Wilson he has stuck to a particular square mile to tell the stories of those people. It's a world he really knows, that's personal to him. He talks about social issues, polarisation in American politics, but presents those different arguments with the same weight which makes exciting story telling."

Sapani says the play raises questions of "justice and race, and what is a life worth?"

"There's the question of had Pops been a white cop, would he have got a different outcome? And the moral issue of the way he choses to live. In a world that's ultimately corrupt, with people prepared to bend the rules to suit their own agenda, what is justice at the end?

"How will people judge the decisions that you have made during your time, and once the chips are down you have lost everything, what is the right course?"

He hopes the drama will "give people lots of food for thought about "what is fair and what is equality?"

"Pops seems to be greedy and self-serving but he's also, incredibly witty. You get the truth with Pops, you know who he is and he says what he means. There is a lot of shame and guilt in his past, but also something quite right about him, a streak of good."

Born "by the Marshes," Sapani grew up in Stoke Newington and went to Hackney Downs School.

Aged seven, he got a part in a school show "banging a triangle with a few lines".

"It just spoke to me, it felt like I had found my calling and I knew this was the thing I was going to do. All these years later, I am still trying to crack it.

He adds that he "owes a lot to the borough" where many of his family still live.

 "It was good years growing up in the 80s. It was a very multicultural environment, it formed me, and it does feel like home.

"It's certainly changed a lot but the areas that are chosen to be gentrified usually have a lot of character. People are trying to adapt that and make it fit their own needs. The markets, churches and community - all of those elements that make an area - they can't get rid of all of those or you will lose some of that energy and vibrancy."

Sapani is "very proud" to be an alumni of WAC Arts an affordable youth arts programme, set up by two local teachers in Kentish Town, whose alumni inlclude Ms Dynamite, Sophie Okonedo, and fellow Black Panther actor Daniel Kaluuya.

"I was lucky to get affordable performing arts classes from the age of 15 - arts training should be available to everyone not just for people who could afford it. It's so enriching for every child's life to have some connection to artistic endeavour," he says.

While his screen credits include Penny Dreadful, Harlots and Killing Eve and Halo, his stage work has not only brought him plaudits but, he says, has a philosophical, spiritual and creative aspect.

"I have huge respect for writers who invite people to see the world in a completely different way. It's a world of constant discovery, a gift for the benefit of humanity - every time I walk on stage there's a feeling of possibility. 

"It's as close as we get to really understanding who we are, and the many facets of our existence. The work has an ability to change people's minds in a way that no other endeavour can."