Full Cast Set For THE BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA at Swan Theatre

The production opens on 30 April, with previews from 18 April, and runs until 1 June. 

By: Mar. 04, 2024
Full Cast Set For THE BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA at Swan Theatre
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Wise Children have announced the full cast for the world première of Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia – adapted by the company’s Artistic Director Emma Rice, with Kureishi. The production runs at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in a co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) as part of Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey’s inaugural season as Co-Artistic Directors.

Rice directs Dee Ahluwalia, Ankur Bahl, Raj Bajaj, Tommy Belshaw, Rina Fatania, Natasha Jayetileke, Bettrys Jones, Simon Rivers, Lucy Thackerayand Ewan Wardrop. The production opens on 30 April, with previews from 18 April, and runs until 1 June. 

Emma Rice, Artistic Director of Wise Children said, “I'm honoured and excited to be part of Tamara and Daniel's inaugural season as Co-Artistic Directors at the RSC. It’s magic to be returning to The Swan stage - and in such a thrilling way! There’ll be no iambic pentameter here, oh no! Expect party poppers, lawn mowers, bean bags and balloons!

“Hanif Kureishi’s debut novel The Buddha of Suburbia is a messy, joyful, and angry love letter to family, theatre and music. Funny and tender in equal measure, this landmark story fizzes with rebellion, confusion, love and acceptance.

“I couldn’t be more delighted to be working with my hero Hanif Kureishi on transforming his literary masterpiece into a joyful theatrical whoop. As the dawn of a new era shines upon the Swan stage, Buddha promises to be dashing, dirty, devasting and hopeful – just as theatre should be!”

Hanif Kureishi said, “I am absolutely thrilled that Emma Rice is adapting my novel for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Emma has a uniquely theatrical imagination, which, in combination with my own theatre background and the novel’s partial setting in the theatre, will result in a vibrant and provocative production.”

The Creative Team includes Set Designer: Rachana Jadhav; Costume Designer: Vicki Mortimer; Sound and Video Designer: Simon Baker; Lighting Designer: Jai Morjaria; Composer: Niraj Chag; Choreographer: Etta Murfitt; Fight Director: Kev McCurdy; Casting Director: Matthew Dewsbury CDG

An irresistible, heart-breaking and joyful exploration of family, friends, sex, theatre and, ultimately, belonging. Emma Rice adapts the award-winning 1990 novel, The Buddha of Suburbia with Hanif Kureishi in a major new co-production with Wise Children and the RSC.


Emma Rice is the Artistic Director of Wise Children and is an internationally respected theatre-maker and director. For Wise Children she has adapted and directed Blue Beard, The Little Matchgirl and Happier Tales, Wuthering Heights, Bagdad Café, Angela Carter’s Wise Children, Enid Blyton’s Malory Towersand Romantics Anonymous. As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe: Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales). Rice worked for Kneehigh as an actor, director and Artistic Director, creating critically acclaimed productions including, but not limited to: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, The Wild Bride, The Red Shoes, Cymbeline (in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Productions), Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic), Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages), and Steptoe and Son. She received the Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre award at the 2019 UK Theatre Awards.    

Hanif Kureishi is a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. His father's family was displaced during the partition of India and Pakistan. Due to his mother being English, the family ended up in London. Hanif studied philosophy and achieved early success as a playwright. He collaborated with several London theatre companies. Commissioned by Channel 4, he wrote the script for My Beautiful Laundrette, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The Buddha of Suburbia, his debut novel, was adapted into a television series, featuring a soundtrack by David Bowie. His book Intimacysparked controversy due to its autobiographical nature, which Hanif denied. The film adaptation, Intimacy, based on his stories and the book, was released in 2001. For the screenplay of the film Venus, Hanif received another Oscar nomination. The film was directed by his close friend Roger Michell. In 2008, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in 2014, he sold his archive to the British Library. In December 2022, he suffered a serious fall in Rome, resulting in paralysis. After an extended stay in rehabilitation centres, he now resides at home in an adapted residence in London. 

Dee Ahluwalia plays Karim. This is Dee’s debut season with the RSC. His theatre credits include Our Generation (National Theatre). For television, his work includes Everything Now, A Gentleman in Moscow and Fifteen Love; and for film, Consent.

Ankur Bahl plays Haroon. His theatre credits include Volpone, The Empress, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors (RSC), The Father and the Assassin (National Theatre), Wise Children (Wise Children/The Old Vic), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe), Can We Talk About This?, To Be Straight With You (DV8/National Theatre). For television his credits include The Regime, Mary and George, Silo, Suspect, and Avenue 5; and for film, Albion, Buckingham Murders and The Surprise.  

Raj Bajaj plays Changez. His theatre credits include Empress, Tartuffe, Tamburlaine (Royal Shakespeare Company), Wildfire Road (Sheffield Crucible), Hobson’s Choice (Royal Exchange Manchester), Rapunzel (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Lions & Tigers, The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe) and East is East (Northern Stage). For television, his credits include Casualty, The Offenders, Killing Eve, Doctor Who and The Garden; and for film, The Lecture, Pray, A Christmas Prince 2 and A Christmas Prince 3.

Tommy Belshaw plays Charlie/ Shadwell. His television credits include The Sparticle Mystery and for short films, Lost Horizon and Napoleon’s Nose. The Buddha of Suburbia will mark his stage debut.

Rina Fatania plays Tracey/Jeeta/Marlene/Auntie Jean.  Her theatre credits include Sheila’s Island, Anita & Me, The Tin Drum (UK tour), Dead Dog in a Suitcase (UK & International tours), NW Trilogy (Kiln Theatre), The Man In The White Suit (Wyndham’s Theatre), The Village, Love N Stuff (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Oliver Twist (Regents Park Open Air Theatre), Roller Diner (Soho Theatre), The Empress (Royal Shakespeare Company) and Dick Whittington (Hackney Empire). For television, credits include Wanderlust, People Just do Nothing; and for film, Little English and Raabta.

Natasha Jayetileke plays Jamila. Her theatre credits include Pandemonium (Soho Theatre), NW Trilogy (Kiln Theatre), Bend It Like Beckham (Phoenix Theatre) The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre), Eurobeat, Britain’s Got Bhangra and Mahabharata (UK tours), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat(New London Theatre) and Wah! Wah! Girls (Peacock Theatre). For television, her credits include Beyond Boundaries and Hustle; and for film, Mistress of Spices.

Bettrys Jones plays Margaret/ Eleanor. Her theatre credits include A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story (Nottingham Playhouse), Yr Hogyn Pren (Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru), The Art Illusion (Hampstead Theatre), Red Ellen (Northern Stage), The Fir Tree, Hamlet, As You Like It, The Little Match Girl(Shakespeare’s Globe), Bagdad (The Old Vic), Wise Children (Wise Children/ The Old Vic), We Want you To Watch, Edward II, Warhorse (National Theatre) A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Comedy of Errors (Royal Shakespeare Company). For television, her credits include Midsomer Murders and Skins; and for film, Cyrano and Private Peaceful.

Simon Rivers plays Anwar/ Uncle Ted. His theatre credits include Falkland Sound, The Empress, (Royal Shakespeare Company), Glitterball, Pyar Actually(RIFCO Arts), My Beautiful Laundrette (Leicester Theatre), East is East (Northern Stage) and Wipers (UK tour). For television, his credits include Anansi Boys, Call the Midwife and Girlfriends; and for film, Where the Skin Lies and ID2: Shadwell Army.

Lucy Thackeray plays Eva. Her theatre credits include Brief Encounter (UK tour), Heroine (Hightide), A Midsummer Nights Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe), Bike, Fallen Angels (Salisbury Playhouse), My Beautiful Black Dog (Bush Theatre), Jonathan Harvey’s Corrie (International tour), Best of Soho Slam (Soho Theatre), Ladies Day, How the Other Half Loves, Noises Off and Sweeney Todd (Queen’s Hornchurch). For television, her credits include Black Ops, Top Boy, The Walk-In, The Dumping Ground and Don’t Forget the Driver; and for film, Moon Knight, A Royal Night Out and iboy.

Ewan Wardrop plays Matthew Pyke. His theatre credits include Bagdad Cafè, A Monster Calls, The American Clock (The Old Vic), Jane Eyre (Watermill Theatre), Formby, Rebecca, Enron, Treasure Island (UK tours), Much Ado About Nothing, 946 – The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips (Shakespeare’s Globe),The Wind in the Willows (Vaudeville Theatre/ Duchess Theatre) and Beauty and The Beast (Royal Shakespeare Company). For film, his credits includeMatthew Bourne’s Christmas and The Magic Flute.