While there might not be quite as many meaty stage roles for actresses as there are actors (is that changing?), the plethora of acting talent I’ve seen over the past 10 years made this quite tricky to narrow down. Hence the list of 11 rather than a neat 10 (and presented in no particular order). Who would you add?
1. Imelda Staunton
Who can forget Margaret in Good People or Martha in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? It’s always a treat when she treads the boards.
2. Jade Anouka
She was the best Hotspur I’ve seen when Phyllida Law did her all-female Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse. She also did a fantastic one-woman show at the fringe (Chef), and I still remember the bit of subtlety she brought to Jamie Lloyd’s lively production of Dr Faustus.
3. Patsy Ferran
Patsy, Patsy, Patsy. Have seen her in fringe productions, small studio theatres, one-women shows and taking lead roles in classics which have ended up in the West End (and winning her awards). So pleased to see her career taking off and can’t wait to see what she does next.
4. Lydia Wilson
When I saw her in the Duchess of Malfi at the Almeida at Christmas I wrote in my review: ‘Where has the magnetic Lydia Wilson been?’. It was fantastic to see her back on stage and I really hope it isn’t too long before we get to see her again.
5. Monica Dolan
Monica Dolan is a bit like Imelda Staunton to me, she chooses interesting characters, quite often ugly characters (and I don’t mean in looks) it often takes you a while to recognise her.
6. Lia Williams
That rasping voice when she played Jean Brodie in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at the Donmar Warehouse still haunts me but it’s not just that, she first completely wowed me in the Almeida’s The Oresteia and was breathtaking as Mary Stuart. Would really like her to do something contemporary next.
7. Billie Piper
If you’d seen teen pop star Billie performing her hit record Because We Want To you’d be forgiven not noticing the Oliver-award winning stage actress underneath the dance moves. And not only that, she is the only actress to win all six of theatre-lands best actress awards for a single role: Yerma. And that’s what I love about her, she continually surprises.
8. Indira Varma
She won best-supporting actress for Present Laughter, Old Vic and deservedly so. Then recently I saw her in Hampstead Theatre’s Tiger Country when it was streamed. She always stands out from the crowd in an ensemble cast.
Promotional poster for Anna, National Theatre starring Phoebe Fox
9. Phoebe Fox
Who can forget A View From The Bridge at the Young Vic? And then more recently there was Anna at the National Theatre. Her TV career is taking off but I really hope that doesn’t mean it’s the end of her stage work.
10. Gillian Anderson
All About Eve in the West End didn’t quite evoke the same adulation as her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Young Vic (currently available to watch for free on the National Theatre YouTube channel) but I ❤️ Gillian and will go and see her in whatever she does.
11. Sinead Matthews
Last but not least is the husky-voiced Sinead Matthews whom I’ve seen in so many things over the years. The role I remember her most vividly in is The Glass Menagerie at the Young Vic but whatever she is in, she is always a joy to watch.
And who would I love to see do more stage work?
I saw Daisy Edgar-Jones in Albion at the Almeida earlier this year, it wasn’t a particularly meaty role but since then I’ve watched Normal People (BBC iPlayer) which blew me away. I’m sure she’s being offered all sorts of interesting work on the back of it and I hope some of that is theatre…
Aimee Lou Woods
Sex Education has been one of my favourite TV series of recent years and Aimee Lou Woods was fantastic in Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter which was one of the last plays I saw before lockdown. Can’t wait to see what she does next.
Remember Girls and Boys, Royal Court? Exactly.
Loved her in Gloria, Hampstead Theatre and The Great Wave, National Theatre and think there is definitely more good stuff to come.
Have only seen her once – in Mosquitoes at the National Theatre – but given her body of screen work, I’d love to see her on stage again.
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