THE cou­ple from

Daily Mail - - It's Friday! -

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.

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