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10th Birthday list: My 10 (ok it's 11) favourite stage actresses plus who I'd really like to see on stage more

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).

Patsy Ferran in My Mum's a Twat, Royal Court Theatre. Photo by Helen Murray.

I've also added a few names I've only seen once or twice but really want to see do more stage work.

Who would you add, let me know in the comments?

1. Imelda Staunton

Who can forget Margaret in Good People or Martha in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolf? 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.

Poster Lydia Wilson Duchess of Malfi Almeida
Lydia Wilson, Duchess of Malfi, Almeida Theatre

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.

Poster Phoebe Fox in Anna  National Theatre
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?

Daisy Edgar-Jones

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.

Carey Mulligan

Remember Girls and Boys, Royal Court? Exactly.

Kae Alexander

Loved her in Gloria, Hampstead Theatre and The Great Wave, National Theatre and think there is definitely more good stuff to come.

Olivia Colman

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.

Enjoyed this list? Here are some more you might like:

Favourite curtain call moments.

10 plays that in hindsight feel appropriate for our situation now.