A Comprehensive Look at ‘A Little Life’


A Little Life is the English-language debut of a much-traveled Dutch-language production, directed by Ivo van Hove, that was first seen in the International Theater Amsterdam in 2018, where van Hove serves as artistic director. This new edition of the show stars James Norton, who appears in the role of Jude, a New York City lawyer scarred both mentally and physically by his traumatic past. A Little Life takes its audience on an emotional rollercoaster as they follow Jude and his three lifelong friends – Willem (portrayed by Luke Thompson), J.B. (played by Omari Douglas), and Malcolm (Zach Wyatt) – through the ups and downs of navigating a life with physical and psychological wounds.

Ivo van Hove, the artistic director of the show, has worked alongside Dutch dramaturge Koen Tachelet and the book’s author Hanya Yanigahara. The show runs at the Harold Pinter theater and provides extended nude scenes with Norton as well as intense video footage of the city of New York. Upon reaching a deeper understanding of Jude’s life story, it he difficult not to be moved by the painfully honest performance of Norton, a performance that will surely be considered for an Olivier award. Nathalie Armin’s heartbreaking portrayal of Ana, a social worker determined to help Jude, was yet another spot of light in an otherwise hard to watch evening.

James Norton is an acclaimed British stage and screen actor. He has had starring roles in Happy Valley, Little Women, McMafia, and Grantchester, and has won multiple awards for his work. His most recent projects include The Pursuit of Love and War of the Worlds. He is well-known for his performance in the BBC One drama series War and Peace.

Hanya Yanigahara is an American author who wrote the 2015 novel A Little Life, which the show is based on. Born in Honolulu, she grew up in Manoa and attended high school at Punahou. She has structured her career in literature, working as an associate editor at Knopf and as an editor for T: The New York Times Style Magazine. She has written other novels such as The People in the Trees and was awarded the Koizumi Yakumo Prize in 2014.