Though she has acted in film and television, Shaw is best known for her work in the theatre, for which she has won three Best Actress Oliviers as well as Evening Standard and London Critics Circle Awards. Amongst her renowned productions are Shakespeare's Richard II in which Shaw played the title role. She was seen most recently in last year's production of Jay Presson Allen's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, based on Muriel Spark's novel, at the National.
Born and educated in Cork, Shaw received a BA Honours in philosophy in 1979. She studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London, joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has lived and worked mainly in England since. For several years, she has worked with the Open University/ BBC Shakespeare Multimedia Research Project, where she has been a keen proponent of teaching drama through new technology.