Shanaya Rafaat

Shanaya trained at RADA, representing them at the Sam Wanamaker Festival 2010.

Her television work includes Dalgleish, Call the Midwife and other recurring roles for BBC drama. She recently completed photography on a TV Film for the BBC in Northern Ireland.

Her theatre credits include Around the World in 80 Days at the St James Theatre, Great Expectations at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the UK tour of James Dacre’s A Tale of Two CitiesThe White Devil at the Globe, Terror at the Lyric Hammersmith, Uncle Vanya directed by Tamara Harvey at Theatre Clwyd and Sheffield and Frankenstein at Royal Exchange Manchester, Romeo and Juliet and Richard III at the Rose Theatre York,  Jude at the Hampstead Theatre, and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at the Leicester Curve and on tour. Shanaya recently led in Jamie Glover’s adaptation of Pinter’s The Homecoming, alongside Keith Allen and Mat Horne, and Pooja Ghai’s Great Expectations at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.

Great Expectations

Shanaya features in Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of Dickens’ classic, directed by Pooja Ghai, at the Royal Exchange, Manchester. Great Expectations has opened to great reviews:

West End Best Friend – ★★★★★

The Guardian – ★★★★

The Times – ★★★★

Lost in Theatreland – ‘standout performances come from Shanaya Rafaat as Krishna’

The Homecoming

Opening Night Reviews 

The Guardian – ★★★★★

‘Jamie Glover’s expert revival produces a most outstanding stink’

‘Rafaat projects an air of amused relish as she takes the family apart one by one’

The Telegraph – ★★★★

‘Very well acted…Shanaya Rafaat’s coolly knowing Ruth…however questionable the nature of her power, there’s no doubt she has it’

Daily Mail – ★★★★

‘Shanaya Rafaat’s unreadable Ruth remains supercool, unresisting and responsive but on her own terms…there is something awesome about her control over this company of pathetic men’

The Times

‘It’s fascinating to watch the subtle change in Rafaat’s body language: a woman who has the voice of the speaking clock begins to thaw’

The Stage

‘stand-out performer is Rafaat…a sort-of-Delilah figure who emasculates every man in the room in different ways, Rafaat makes the most of strained silences and ultra-controlled slow body movements’


‘Ruth remains an enigma’

What’s On Stage

‘Shanaya Rafaat is clipped and poised, an innocent corrupted or a serpent chucked into the hornets’ nest?’

Stage Talk Magazine

‘With a still, self-confidence, Shanaya Rafaat’s Ruth plays the trump card of sex, which runs in its various tributaries throughout the play’

Bristol 24/7

‘Shayana Rafaat (Ruth) is stand-out marvellous… she emanates dignity, power, poise and self-belief. She’s a fascinating watch and deserves top billing and plaudits galore’

Bath Echo

‘An excellent production with a stellar cast’

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

  • Shanaya Rafat brings us a Mae with a very specific view of what is right and wrong. In particular, the lifestyle she and Gooper enjoy, with five children and another on the way, is right, unlike that of Brick and Maggie. A scene in which the true colours of Mae and Gooper (Sam Alexander) are revealed is especially powerful with their changing emotions becoming ever clearer and ever more feral…as a dark dissection of a family whose members lurch from crisis to crisis, it certainly works. The Reviews Hub
  • The stern-faced Mae (Shanaya Rafaat) moves like a snake in the grass in pursuit of inheritance and justice for her baring of five sons, with another on the way…Almeida’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a challenging watch – but one that is executed with razor-sharp precision. Cat

Jude at the Hampstead Theatre

Shanaya will be performing in Jude at the Hampstead Theatre 26 April – 1 June

Great reviews for Shanaya as Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet at the Rose Theatre, York.

  • Like in Romeo and Juliet, Shanaya Rafaat plays a classically male role, here taking on the part of Richard’s key ally. Her Buckingham shows a calculated, watchful deference when needed, and Rafaat delivers text beautifully, clearly punctuating her speech with a series of gestures recognisable from the slick politician’s repertoire.British Theatre Guide
  • Shanaya Rafaat plays Mercutio, and there are fascinating, tantalising hints that unspoken attraction may drive the character’s relentless, manic teasing of Romeo and insufferable showing off. The Independent
  • Shanaya Rafaat’s Mercutio is outstanding; a gloriously spirited performance. ON-Magazine

Praise for Shanaya in Frankenstein at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

  • Perhaps Elizabeth, the woman to whom Frankenstein is briefly wed, could be a candidate for the strength in the piece? She is played with illuminating intelligence by Shanaya Rafaat a star in the making. The Observer
  • With Shanaya Rafaat playing a succession of wives, there’s a sense that men have always sought to remake others at will. It’s a sharp feminist undertow.


Shanaya will be performing in Frankenstein at the Royal Exchange Manchester,

9 March – 7 April 2018

Shanaya Rafaat

Reviews are in for Shanaya Rafaat’s performance in Uncle Vanya.

The press on Shanaya:

  • “Shanaya Rafaat’s Elena is more than a gold digging temptress playing with the men around her. Rafaat plays her every bit as a grownup Veruca Salt, she is petulant, spoilt and petty, but she also brings to the role an awareness of her vulnerability and weakness” Exposed Magazine
  • “Elena; originally played by Ola Knipper Chekhova (in a production including Stanislavsky no less), this gives Shanaya Rafaat quite something to live up to. And she does” – Carole Baldock, North West End Rating
  • “Dimsdale, Rafaat and Ballard provide the intrigue with the miniature-explosions in their disappointed love triangle” – The Reviews Hub
  • “Shanaya Rafaat and Rosie Sheehy make another excellent pairing as Elena and Sonia. Rafaat maintaining a delicate aloofness and Sheehy carrying fragile charm right to her final, closing line” – Nigel Smith, The Stage
  • “Shanaya Rafaat is a beautiful Elena, swishing around in her elegant gown and drawing the eyes of the hapless men” – Velda Harris, British Theatre Guide

Shanaya Rafaat in 'Uncle Vanya'

Shanaya Rafaat cast as Elena in Tamara Harvey’s production of Uncle Vanya, play at Theatre Clwyd from 21st September – 14th October.

Shanaya Rafaat has opened in Terror

Shanaya Rafaat has just opened in Terror at the Lyric Hammersmith and positive reviews have rolled in.

  • “What seals the deal is the cast. You could easily imagine this being done with second-tier actors, but Holmes has roped in some big hitters…a thrill” Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out
  • “The cast is irreproachable.” Kate Kellaway, The Guardian
  • “… Rafaat as the widow hit the right tone, neither inflected nor flat.” 4 stars, Dominic Maxwell, The Times

Shanaya Rafaat in 'The Terror'

Shanaya Rafaat cast in Terror, directed by Sean Holmes at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Terror will play at the Lyric from 14th June – 15th July 2017.

Reviews in for 'The White Devil'

The White Devil, at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe, in which Shanaya plays Zanche, receives fantastic reviews.

The press on Shanaya Rafaat and The White Devil:

  • “Shanaya Rafaat as Vittoria’s waiting woman…a striking mix of wily opportunist and instinctive truth-teller.” 4 stars, Michael Billington, The Guardian
  • “Shanaya Rafaat as Zanche is a standout” 5 stars, Stuart McMillan, The Upcoming
  • “Ryan’s vivid cast always make the verse sound bounding and spontaneous…” 4 stars, Paul Taylor, The Independent
  • “Unexpected, rich in parody and beautifully acted. A treat for the eyes and ears.” 4 stars, Marc Brenner, Broadway World

Shanaya Rafaat in 'White Devil'

Shanaya Rafaat cast as Zanche in The White Devil, directed by Annie Ryan at the Globe, in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

First reviews in for 'A Tale of Two Cities'

A Tale of Two Cities, with Shanaya Rafaat as Lucie Manette receives glowing reviews.

The press on Shanaya Rafaat and A Tale of Two Cities:

  • “…whimsical Shanaya Rafaat as Lucie Manette…this epic of literature gets a welcome revival at the hands of Dacre and his team, and a well-deserved exposure to a wider audience.” 5 stars, Michael Davies, Whats on Stage
  • “Miss Rafaat is tidily swoonsome” 5 stars, Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “Shanaya Rafaat is…exactly right as Lucie, a permanent rose in everyone’s life…If you know A Tale Of Two Cities you will enjoy this version immensely as it rises absolutely to the challenge; if you don’t know it, you will think it is one of the best stories you have ever witnessed unfold on stage.” 5 Stars, Stephen Collins, Live Theatre
  • “It is a neat and compact production of a complicated novel, filled with excellent performances and a mostly swift and pacy direction from James Dacre.” 4 Stars, A Small Mind at the Theatre
  • “Acting, writing and set designing of the highest quality…the engrossing action never loses pace and this is mainly due to the quality of the acting…probably the highest standard of theatre I have ever seen.” Callum Jones, Northampton Chronicle

Shanaya Rafaat in 'A Tale of Two Cities'

Shanaya Rafaat joins the cast of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities at the Royal & Derngate Northampton, followed by a UK Tour.

Shanaya plays Lucie Manette in the production, directed by James Dacre, on tour until 26th November 2016.

Shanaya Rafaat in 'EastEnders'

Shanaya Rafaat plays a guest role in two episodes of BBC’s EastEnders.

Shanaya Rafaat in 'Great Expectations'

Shanaya Rafaat played Estella in Lucy Bailey’s production, of Great Expectations at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, which played 9th March – 2nd April 2016.

The press on Shanaya and Great Expectations:

  • “Shanaya Rafaat is throughly chilling as an ice-cold Estella whose heart never melts.” – 4 Stars – Roger Foss – The Stage
  • “Shanaya Rafaat as Estella hits the right note of smiling iciness, tapping her heart and reminding Pip that there is nothing here” – 4 Stars – Dominic Maxwell – The Times
  • “As for the Estellas, Natalya Aspinall’s younger version is imperious, with traces of human compassion; Shanaya Rafaat’s older self ensures that these have been eradicated completely.” 4 stars – Alfred Hicking, The Guardian

Praise for Shanaya Rafaat in 'Stateless'

Shanaya Rafaat played Kat in the Kali Theatre Company’s Stateless, at the Tristan Bates Theatre.

The press on Shanaya:

  • “Rafaat is magnificent in cranking up the tensionâ” – Arifa Akbar, The Independent
  • “Both Simon James Bailie…and Shanaya Rafaat as Kat gave exceptionally strong and memorable performances…Shanaya Rafaat…is a strong prescence” – Keith McKenna, British Theatre Guide

4-star reviews for 'Around the World in 80 Days'

Shanaya Rafaat played Mrs Aouda in Lucy Bailey’s 4-star production of Around the World in 80 Days at the St James’ Theatre.

The press on Shanaya:

  • “The best performance by some distance comes from Shanaya Rafaat as Fogg’s romantic interest, Mrs Aouda…Rafaat manages to make her character poignant, graceful and sympathetic.” – Alex Larman, The Arbuturian
  • “Shanaya Rafaat as Mrs Aouda brings a beautiful warmth to the production” – Emily Jones, Bargain Theatre Land
  • “The spiky, sensual Mrs Aouda (a well judged performance from Shanaya Rafaat)” – Gary Naylor, Broadway World
  • “Shanaya Rafaat, heart-melting indeed” – Holly Williams, What’s On Stage