THE couple from
Washington D.C. sitting in front of me in the National Theatre’s Olivier stalls on Monday had never heard of Andrea Levy. And they didn’t know what the adaptation of her novel Small Island was about. ‘Are you in this?’ they asked. No, I replied. They wanted to know a little about the story. So I gave them a spoiler-free
precis of the tale of Hortense (a superb Leah Harvey) who sails from
Jamaica to England. And Queenie (Aisling Lofting), who runs a boarding house in Earls Court. Every time a nasty comment was made to a Caribbean character, the woman in front turned around to make sure I was OK. Actually, I was fine. But it was very nice of them. Director Rufus Norris’s production is both powerful and thrilling. The acting across the board is great, but I have to single out David Fielder as Arthur, Queenie’s father-in-law. He captured the soul of a man shattered by the hell of war.