The P Word, by Waleed Akhtar, whose play Kabul Goes Pop was a hit at Brixton House earlier this year, opens at the Bush Theatre on 9 September (press night 14 September.) Directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike (Lava, Bush Theatre), this story of who wins in the luck of the life’s draw is a new Bush Theatre commission. The cast is Waleed Akhtar and Esh Alladi.
‘I’m not in your Britain. I’m in another Britain.’
Zafar flees homophobic persecution in Pakistan to seek asylum in the UK. Londoner Bilal (or Billy as he prefers to be known) is ground down by years of Grindr and the complexity of being a brown gay man. Their worlds are about to change forever.
Moving through casual hook-ups to the UK’s hostile environment, Waleed Akhtar’s sharp-witted and devastating new play charts the parallel lives of two gay Pakistani men.
Deirdre O’Halloran, Literary Manager of the Bush Theatre said, ‘The P Word is the story of a chance encounter bringing two worlds together, and in a time where it feels like we're all increasingly divided, there is something quietly revolutionary about that. The play started out as a seed commission at the Bush, with Waleed writing a full first draft in just a week and the team was so excited and inspired by its activism, truthfulness, and hopefulness. It’s a queer story that could not be more relevant to Britain today.’
Waleed Akhtar plays Bilal (Billy). His theatre credits include AI (Young Vic); A Thousand Splendid Sons (Birmingham Rep and tour); Flight (Vox Motus/The Bridge); What Shadows (Birmingham Rep/ Park Theatre); Fracked! (Chichester Festival Theatre tour); The Kite Runner (Nottingham Playhouse and tour); Cold Calling: The Arctic Project (Birmingham Rep); Wipers (Leicester Curve); Back Down (Birmingham Rep); Velocity (Finborough); RE:HOME (The Yard); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Tooting Arts Club); Under 11's (Soho Theatre); Love Match (Cheltenham Everyman); Make and Model: Radar Festival (Bush Theatre). His television credits include The Great (Hulu); Tyrant (FOX); Three Girls (BBC); Casualty (BBC); Holby City (BBC); Bucket (BBC); Dustbin Baby (BBC); Edge of Heaven (Hartswood Films); Doctors (BBC); Law and Order UK (Kudos); The Gym (BBC Studios). Waleed’s film credits include Cruella (Disney); The Wedding Guest (Revolution Films); The Roads Not Taken (Adventure Pictures); Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Kudos Film); Night Bus (El Capitan); Miss You Already (Embargo Films); Bruno (Jeva Films); The Intent 2 (Purple Geko); 90 Minutes (El Capitan); Sparks and Embers (Cinemagine); Sidney (BFI). His audio credits include Tommies (BBC Radio 4); My Son the Doctor (BBC Radio 4); In Here (BBC Radio 4); What the Papers Say (BBC Radio 4). Waleed is also a resident member of the Actors for Human Rights network and a seasoned comedy improviser.
Esh Alladi plays Zafar. He trained at LAMDA and the University of Cambridge. He is an actor, writer, and producer who is also a qualified doctor. In 2019, he won the UK Theatre Award for ‘Best Supporting Performance’ for Hobson’s Choice at the Royal Exchange. His theatre credits include An Adventure (Bolton Octagon); Out West (Lyric Hammersmith; The Argument (Theatre Royal Bath); Hobson's Choice (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester); Rutherford and Son (Crucible Theatre); Absolute Hell (National Theatre); Twelfth Night (Royal Shakespeare Company); Lions and Tigers (The Globe); Nell Gwynn (The Globe and ETT National Tour); A Midsummer Night's Dream (New Wolsey Theatre); The House of In Between (Theatre Royal Stratford East); Wit (Royal Exchange Theatre); My World Exploded a little bit (Tristan Bates Theatre); The Beaux' Stratagem, Dara, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, War Horse BBC Prom, From Morning to Midnight, Romeo & Juliet (National Theatre); The Wind in the Willows (Birmingham Rep). His television credits include Red Rose (BBC), The Other One (BBC), Anthony (BBC), Casualty (BBC), Eastenders (BBC), A Confession (ITV), Apple Tree House (BBC), Houdini and Doyle (ITV) and Frankie (BBC). Esh’s film credits include Still Life, The Leak, Ordinary Love, and Christmas at the Palace.
Anthony Simpson-Pike is a director, dramaturg, and writer whose work has been staged in theatres including the Bush, The Gate, The Young Vic, and The Royal Court. He is currently Associate Director at The Yard Theatre, was previously Resident Director at Theatre Peckham, and Associate Director at The Gate Theatre. Anthony is also a facilitator, having worked with young people and communities at The Gate, The Royal Court, The Young Vic, The Globe, and National Theatre. Recent directorial work includes Lava by Benedict Lombe (Bush Theatre); Living Newspaper (Royal Court); The Electric by Vickie Donoghue (Paines Plough/RWCMD); and The Ridiculous Darkness by Wolfram Lotz (Gate Theatre). As a dramaturg, Anthony has developed multiple seasons of work for The Gate and The Yard as Associate Director. Recent dramaturgical credits include Much Ado About Nothing (RSC); Samskara by Lanre Malalou (Yard Theatre); Hotline with Produced Moon (Tron Theatre); Dear Young Monster by Pete McHale (The Queer House); and Coup de Grace by Almudena Ramirez (Royal Court).
Tickets priced from £20 (concessions available) can be booked at bushtheatre.co.uk or at the Box Office on 020 8743 5050.
A Bush Theatre production
THE P WORD
by Waleed Akhtar
Directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike
Set and Costume Designer - Max Johns
Lighting Designer - Elliot Griggs
Sound designer - XANA
Composer - Niraj Chag
Movement Director - Rachael Nanyonjo
Assistant Director - Adam Karim
Dramaturg - Deirdre O’Halloran
Voice and Dialect Coach - Gurkiran Kaur
Costume Supervisor - Maariyah Sharjil
Casting Director - Jatinder Chera
Cast - Waleed Akhtar and Esh Alladi
9 September - 22 October
Monday - Saturday at 7.30 pm
Wednesday matinees - 21, 28 Sept & 5, 12, 19 Oct at 2.30pm
Saturday Matinees - 17, 24 Sept & 1, 8, 15, 22 Oct at 2.30pm
Relaxed Performances - 24 Sept at 2.30pm & 13 Oct at 7.30pm
Captioned performances - 29 Sept at 7.30pm & 8 Oct at 2.30pm
Audio described performances - 1 Oct at 2.30pm & 6 Oct at 7.30pm
Press Night - 14 Sept at 7 pm
at Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Rd, London W12 8LJ