First she conquered the pop charts, then the small screen. Now Billie Piper’s dazzling turn as a woman struggling to conceive in ‘Yerma’ at the Young Vic has won her an Evening Standard Theatre Award. Nick Curtis meets this year’s Best Actress.
It is 11am on the morning after the Evening Standard Theatre Awards at The Old Vic and Billie Piper has a crushing hangover. The 34-year-old got a standing ovation when she won the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress for her career-making performance as Yerma, in a production at the Young Vic that reinvented Federico Garcia Lorca’s barren Spanish villager as a modern woman destroyed by her inability to have a child.
‘Oh crikey, thank you, I love this,’ Piper said from the stage. She told the play’s writer and director, Simon Stone: ‘You scared the s*** out of me and I thank you for it.’ To her mother, Mandy, her companion for the evening, she said simply: ‘I love you mum.’ After that, things got messy.
‘It was a great night, such fun, such an overwhelming experience,’ Piper croaks. ‘I just smoked an enormous amount of cigarettes and was shouting all night long. I got very, very drunk, but I didn’t realise I was drunk. I think I was pumped with adrenaline.’ During the star-studded ceremony, she sat at a relatively quiet table with the Young Vic boss, David Lan, and the polymathic director and producer Stephen ‘Billy Elliot’ Daldry — ‘people with the right level of commitment to the cause’ — and later found herself ‘at every given moment talking to someone deeply impressive. My mum kept her cool, even around Glenn Close, which was awesome’.