The Buddha of Suburbia

Based on the novel by Harif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia is the story of Karim, his extended family and life in South London in the 70's for an 'almost' Englishman.

Karim's mother was born in England, his father migrated to the UK from India. Their relationship's with each other and their ever expanding circle are testing, messy and gloriously technicoloured.

Emma Rice's adaptation, with original writer Kureishi, is fresh and full of life. Building on the most simple face value relationships with the complications and empathy of the situations life's twists and turns takes.

Dee Ahluwalia, in the role of Karim, is an excellent narrator. His storytelling has such charm that we not only want his character to successfully rebel, we also want to give him a big hug and tell him it's all going to be okay.

There is far too much talent in this cast to single everyone out individually, but further mention must go to Bettrys Jones as Margaret, Karim's mother, a delightfully pitiable performance. Natasha Jayetileke as Jamila, the strength of her portrayal as strong as her characters will to have full control of her life, and Raj Bajaj as Changez, the naïve husband by arrangement who comically can do nothing right, but ultimately keeps trying anyway.

With set design by Rachana Jadhav, costume design by Vicki Mortimer, sound and video design by Simon Baker and lighting design by Kai Morjaria, the whole production is an eclectic mix of ideas, beliefs, comedy and colour.

Our favourite portrayal had to be that of Matthew Pyke, theatre director, played by Ewan Wardrop. Capturing an adequate amount of patronising power play with a sarcastic nod to company warm ups and exercises. It certainly provided laugh out loud flashbacks to drama school days!

It's a compelling and thought provoking production, capturing the struggles and the hope of a time when ignorance played a large part in people's opinions and behaviours, but also allowed hope and acceptance to shine through.

Most importantly, this is a brilliant and entertaining piece of theatre and one not to miss this season at The RSC.

This show was reviewed on the 30th April 2024 and runs at The RSC until the 1st June 2024.  Tickets available here: About the play | Buddha of Suburbia | Royal Shakespeare Company (

Review written by Rachel Martin


Photo credit: Steve Tanner

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