Small Island

Small Island

Adapted by Helen Edmundson

Based on the novel by Andrea Levy

Read full synopsis

This epic and much-loved stage production of Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning was filmed live on stage during its sold-out run in 2019.

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 were filmed live on the Olivier Theatre stage in this timely and moving story.


Show image (Leah Harvey) by Franklyn Rodgers


Small Island is BBFC rated 15 due to use of strong language. 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.

Leah Harvey (Hortense) and CJ Beckford (Michael). Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Epic and inspiring. Exceptional performances.

Daily Telegraph

Leah Harvey (Hortense), Gershwyn Eustace Jr (Gilbert) and Andrew Rothney (Bernard). Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

A spectacular adaptation of Andrea Levy's Windrush novel.


Read full review

CJ Beckford (Michael) and Aisling Loftus (Queenie). Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Feature: Three people whose families came to Britain from the Caribbean give their opinions on Small Island – and recall their own struggles. Read the article >

Gershwyn Eustace Jr (Gilbert) and David Fielder (Arthur). Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

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


Read full review

Leah Harvey (Hortense) and Johann Myers (Elwood). Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

A gripping story of the Windrush generation.

The Times

Andrew Rothney (Bernard), David Fielder (Arthur) and Aisling Loftus (Queenie). Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Breathtaking. An all-encompassing and absorbing production.


Read full review

Join our mailing list

Join our mailing list

Get email updates about the National Theatre Live productions

Sign up

Tickets and info