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Small Island 2019

adapted by Helen Edmundson
based on the novel by Andrea Levy

17 April to 10 August 2019
Running Time: Approx. 3hrs 10min including 20min interval

Small Island 2019

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.

Small Island was  broadcast on National Theatre Live on Thu 27 June 2019

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.


Production supported by Areté Foundation / Betsy & Ed Cohen

The footage used from 'Terminus 1961' and 'West Indies Calling' is Crown copyright and is reproduced with the permission of The British Film Institute under delegated authority from The Keeper of Public Records.

 All other archive footage courtesy of British Pathé.


Talks and events

Exhibition: Ronan Mckenzie photographs

All Kinds of Limbo: A VR musical journey inspired by Small Island

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

Small Island | Cast visit to Black Cultural Archives

More info

Small Island | Rehearsal gallery