Small Island Review

The National Theatre has another smash hit on their hands: Small Island

This is a real blockbuster of a production, it is incredibly cinematic and clever. Rufus Norris and the designer (Katrina Lindsay) have created a visually stunning look for the piece featuring stunning projection by Jon Driscoll. Playing around with shadows and charcoal artwork, the projection wall and the sets blend into another to create the aesthetic world that this play is set in. It moves very quick jumping to another countries in the matter of seconds thanks to the projection. The characters can be on the stage really quickly due to the lifts bringing them up though the stage floor so they don’t have to walk across the huge Olivier stage, it really keeps the pace flowing well.

The play is based on the novel by Andrea Levy and is about the Windrush generation. There are 3 main characters that narrate their lives directly to the audience giving it a contemporary, fun feel. Throughout the play the characters are ultimately linked together though relationships with each other so it was very satisfying as an audience member to see these very different characters, far away from each other, be linked in some way. It is a beautiful narrative choice to tell this story.

This huge cast of around 30 give the epic feeling of scale, many of the ensemble are there to cover scene changes or be the population in London. One of my favourite moments is where we go to London and the revolve is turning around quickly with a swarm of people moving in all different directions. This is combined with stunning projections of cinemas, shops and theatres. It really did capture the energy London has! We go to so many locations and the projection really did help with that. 

This play just builds and builds until you are left very emotional at the end (no spoilers!) Every single cast member delivered the story and deserved the full standing ovation at the end. Leah Harvey plays Hortense ,who we follow a lot to different stories to. Hortense is a very strong woman and she executed it very well! Aisling Loftus has a heartbreaking storyline and she puts so much passion and emotion into her role. Gershwyn Eustache Jnr plays Gilbert who is Hortense’s husband. He was very funny but he could bring it back in when needed so!

Another element I loved was the music, at times it felt very cinematic then there would be singing onstage and instruments played by the ensemble. It told you where about in the story we were!

This is one of the best plays I’ve seen and I urge everyone to get a ticket. Do not be put off by the 3 hour running time, it goes so quickly!

Thanks For Reading! Have you seen Small Island? Feel free to comment below or message me on Instagram @unofficialtheatre

Eugene

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