The good half of Chicken Soup with Barley
The Flying Karamatov Brothers - better than Pirates 4

Will Luise Miller redeem the Donmar?

Schillers-luise-miller After the disappointing Moonlight, I've been waiting for something a bit more in the league of Red from the Donmar and Luise Miller might come close.

It's a new version of Friedrich Schiller's late 18th century play and one of what became known as the 'domestic tragedies'.

Luise (pronounced Louisa not Louise as I quickly discovered and played by Felicity Jones) is a musician's daughter who falls in love with one of her father's students, Ferdinand (Max Bennett), the son of the powerful and important Chancellor.

It would be problem enough except that Ferdinand reciprocates Luise's love and his father (Ben Daniels) has a strategic and politically important marriage arranged for him to the Prince's mistress Lady Milford (Alex Kingston).

Of course the passionate young love threatens to derail The Chancellor's plans and those of his servant Wurm (John Light), who has an eye for Luise himself, and so something must be done to break the bond between the two.

There are obvious nods to Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and Othello in the plot, almost as if Schiller were drawing on the best bits of both, while reflecting the sort of behaviour in the ruling classes that was to lead to a bloody revolution in neighbouring France a few years after the play was written.

The characters are a little too black and white but it is still a gripping story as a tangled web of plotting unfolds with our heroine the innocent victim. There is always a danger that young lovers can be portrayed with a little too much youthful vigor so as to border on the irritating but Jones gives Luise a wide-eyed yet wise innocence and Bennett is just the right level of earnest.

Finty Williams feels a little under-used as Frau Miller but for me David Dawson steals all his scenes as the slightly camp, vain and gossipy Hofmarschall von Kalb.

It's not quite Red so I'm going to give it four stars but the Donmar is nonetheless redeemed. I do hope that director Michael Grandage was pleased with what he saw, he dashed off back stage with such speed the moment the applause started - oh to be a fly on the wall and hear what he said.

This was a preview performance. The play runs until July 30.


Even though Felicity Jones and Mr W were in the same film - The Tempest - I believe that the latter did most of his scenes in a special effects studio in New York but, Helen Mirren was Felicity Jones' mother in it and she did do scenes with him, so that's the connection.

There is another mother-related Felicity Jones connection in that when she was in That Face at the Royal Court in 2007, Lindsay Duncan played her Mum and Duncan played the judge in Criminal Justice which of course starred Mr W. So basically Felicity Jones always plays the daughter of someone who traumatises Mr W. Won't hold it against her.