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Small Island

adapted by Helen Edmundson
based on the novel by Andrea Levy

Now playing
Running Time: Approx. 3hrs 15min including 20min interval

Small Island

Andrea Levy’s epic, Orange Prize-winning novel bursts to new life on the Olivier stage. A company of 40 tells a story which journeys from Jamaica to Britain, through the Second World War to 1948 – the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury.

Adapted for the stage by Helen EdmundsonSmall Island 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 of Jamaica and the UK.

Hundreds of £15 tickets for every performance

Please note: This production contains strobe-like effects. 
Also, 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; for more information please contact us via our Help centre.


National Theatre Live broadcast on Thu 27 June
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Production supported by Areté Foundation / Betsy & Ed Cohen


Talks and events

Creating the Music in Small Island Tue 14 May, 6.30pm
Caribbean Women’s Diaspora Sat 18 May, 2pm
The Stuart Hall Project (film screening) Mon 20 May, 6.30pm
A New Beacon: Caribbean Artists Movement Thu 23 May, 6.30pm
Actors Leah Harvey and Aisling Loftus Fri 31 May, 3pm
Director Rufus Norris and adapter Helen Edmundson on Small Island, chaired by Brenda Emmanus Tue 11 June, 6pm
War to Windrush: Black Women in Britain 1939–1948 Mon 17 June, 6pm
A Hole in Babylon – Talk on Horace Ové’s work and film screening, Fri 12 July, 6.30pm
Standing on the Shoulders: Black Women Actors in the UK from 1950s–1980s, Sat 20 July, 2pm
Designing Small Island with Katrina Lindsay, Mon 22 July, 5pm

Small Island | Cast visit to Black Cultural Archives

More info

Small Island ticket prices and Access performances

Ticket prices

Monday - Thursday eves, all matinees
*£70, £50, £42, £38, £30, £15
Friday & Saturday eves
*£75, £55, £48, £42, £32, £15
Ways to save
Previews 17 & 18 April

£37 - £15

Access Performances

Audio-described performances, for blind and visually impaired people:
Fri 19 July, 7.30pm
Sat 20 July, 2pm preceded by a Touch Tour

Captioned performances, for deaf or hard-of-hearing people:
Tue 28 May, 7.30pm
Wed 12 June, 2pm
Sat 27 July, 2pm


*Some of the best seats in the house are premium priced. They help to ensure we can continue to offer low price seats for all our productions; the National Theatre is a charity and only 17% government-funded. This year nearly 30% of our tickets are available for £20 or less.

Smart caption glasses

Smart caption glasses are a revolutionary new way for people with hearing loss to enjoy performances at the National Theatre. For the first time, service users can experience our productions, including this one, from any seat in any theatre.

Find out about Smart caption glasses

People wearing Smart Caption Glasses at a performance in the theatre