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National Theatre at Home: Small Island

adapted by Helen Edmundson
based on the novel by Andrea Levy

From 18 to 25 June 2020
Running Time: 2 hours 55 minutes including a short interval

5 star rating

One of the most important plays of the year. Superb production. Outstanding performances. Andrea Levy’s epic makes momentous theatre.

5 star rating

Epic and inspiring. Exceptional performances. Small Island has found its ideal home.

Daily Telegraph
5 star rating

Extraordinary. Charming performances. Spectacular adaptation of Andrea Levy's Windrush novel.

5 star rating

Powerful. Rufus Norris’s effortlessly enjoyable production is everything a show should be. It speaks to all of us, today.

5 star rating

A big smash hit. Resonant, funny and moving. A wonderful production.

Mail on Sunday
4 star rating

A gripping story of the Windrush generation. The acting is superb. A vital production.

The Times
4 star rating

Lavish and moving stage adaptation of the late Andrea Levy's great novel about the Windrush generation.

Time Out
4 star rating

Spectacular. Windrush epic unfurls beautifully.

Daily Mail
4 star rating

Breathtaking. An all-encompassing and absorbing production. A play for today.

What's On Stage
4 star rating

Staged with its warmth and poignancy. Rufus Norris balances moments of fragile intimacy and scenes of sweeping breadth.

Evening Standard

National Theatre at Home: Small Island

Filmed live during its sold-out run in 2019, the National Theatre’s epic production of Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning novel is streaming with National Theatre at Home to mark Windrush Day 2020.

Small Island embarks on a journey from Jamaica to Britain, through the Second World War to 1948 – the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury.

The play follows three intricately connected stories: Hortense yearns for a new life away from rural Jamaica, Gilbert dreams of becoming a lawyer, and Queenie longs to escape her Lincolnshire roots. Hope and humanity meet stubborn reality as the play traces the tangled history between Jamaica and the UK.

A company of 40 actors take to the stage of the Olivier Theatre in this timely and moving story.

BBFC rating 15 when released in cinema. As part of depicting the experience of Jamaican immigrants to Britain after the Second World War, at times characters in the play use language which is racially offensive.

At a time when you aren’t able to visit National Theatre Live venues or local theatres, we’re excited to bring you National Theatre at Home.

Small Island was streamed as part of National Theatre at Home from 7pm on Thursday 18 June until 7pm on Thursday 25 June on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel.

Some of the best British theatre was free to watch from the comfort of your living room, via YouTube, with each title available for one week.

Thank you to all the amazing artists who have allowed us to share Small Island in this way, during a time when many theatre fans aren’t able to visit their local theatre.

Audio-described provision for Small Island

An Audio-described version of the Small Island stream was made available on YouTube.

Please note: This production contains strobe-like effects.


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Official Trailer | Small Island - Stage Adaptation | National Theatre at Home

Watch the trailer for the moving stage adaptation of Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning novel, Small Island, tracing the tangled history between Jamaica and the UK, from WWII to 1948.

More info

Small Island | A 2020 Vision – Seen From Afar and Close-up | National Theatre at Home

Ola Animashawun from the National Theatre's New Work Department leads a panel discussion that explores race and the historic relationship between Africa, America, the Caribbean and Britain, in the context of the stories underpinning that dynamic.

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'I'm only 93!' Windrush Passenger Alford Gardner | Small Island - National Theatre at Home

Alford Gardner, who was a passenger on HMT Empire Windrush in 1948, recalls happy memories from the trip. He visited the cast of Small Island in rehearsals for the original run of the show at the National Theatre.

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Official Teaser | Small Island | National Theatre at Home

‘Andrea Levy’s Windrush epic makes momentous theatre.’ ★★★★★ The Guardian. Small Island traces the interwoven and troubled histories between Jamaica and the UK, from WWII through to 1948, as its three characters long for a better life.

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Production team

Image (Leah Harvey) by Franklyn Rodgers