My Top Ten Favourite Plays by Female Playwrights

Plays by female playwrights are performed and published significantly less frequently than those by male playwrights. In the interests of balancing my Top Ten Favourite Plays, which do include some by female playwrights, but not as many as I’d like (ie. half) here are my favourite plays by female playwrights. If you get a chance to read or see them – do it!

10. Aphra Behn, The Rover

I studied this in my second year, and I have so much admiration for Behn that I can’t not include it here. If you’ve never heard of her, you can read the Wikipedia page about her here – we think she’s the first (English) woman to have lived from writing, and she’s just incredible. When you’re quoted in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own as someone on whose tomb “all women together” ought to leave flowers, you know you’re doing something right!

9. Shelagh Delaney, A Taste of Honey

You may well have heard of this, and, since I first heard of it, I think there have been at least one performance of it in Sheffield and two in Cambridge, so I hope there’s a way for you to see it, as well as read it.

8. Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Her Naked Skin

A play about the suffragettes, by a brilliant playwright, which premiered at the National Theatre in 2008 – the first play a female playwright to premier on the main stage. What’s not to love?

7. Laura Wade, Posh

I saw this as a student in Cambridge, and was slightly uncomfortably reminded of some of the students I found it more difficult to interact with. Biting satire about Bullingdon-style-all-male clubs at university, it’s clever, sharp, and if you’re a university student, you might find it particularly funny.

6. Bola Agbaje, Gone too Far

To my shame, I haven’t actually seen this, but I’ve read a lot of fantastic things about it, and it won an Olivier, so I think you can rest assured that it’s great writing and a great play. Buy the playtext or go see it if you can: I know I’m going to.

5. Carol Ann Duffy, My Country: A Work in Progress

I haven’t managed seen this yet, either, but I mentioned it in my recommendations for March, and it’s now touring around the UK. Considering different real people’s views on Brexit, it’s one you should definitely try to see if you can.

4. Nina Raine, Tribes

I assistant produced a student production of this last year, and it’s a wonderful, touching and poignant play about family, relationships and hearing. If you get a chance to read it, or better still see a performance, I can’t recommend it enough.

3. Agatha Christie, The Mousetrap

I saw this when it was on tour a few years ago, and it stuck with me: it’s clever, gripping and witty. If you like Christie’s crime novels and you like theatre, this is perfect. If you don’t like one, or the other, try it anyway:  you might be surprised by how much you enjoy it!

2. Sarah Kane, Blasted

This is very dark, very violent, and very graphic. All that said, it’s also pretty brilliant. I preferred reading to watching it (just a little too graphic to watch for my tastes, though I admire the effect of the graphic nature intellectually).

1. Caryl Churchill, The Hospital at the Time of the Revolution

I’m writing a dissertation focused on this play (and a couple of others) and the more I think about it, the more I think it’s a brilliant piece of writing. It’s clever, political, anti-colonial and feminist, and can be read or seen (it was initially written as a radio play: you could try reading it aloud with friends!).


That’s all for this week: thank you as always for reading, and I hope one or more of these has caught your eye! Please like this post if you enjoyed it, leave a comment with your favourite play by a female playwright, and follow the blog if you haven’t already done so! I’ll be back next Friday with recommendations for theatre to see in May 2017!

Emily xxx


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