Left – Sandy Gore
Switzerland is a rollicking who-dun-it.
If you are unfamiliar with Patricia Highsmith’s unique blend of physiological persiflage, you are on the threshold of a mind-expanding opportunity.
Much of the authors appeal lies in her humanism both in a regard for her characters’ journey, and in that her writing is spirited and inclusive. She is a marvellous story teller, has a sure command of langue and portrays complex people exceedingly well; such as the psychotic con-artist, the Talented Mr Ripley.
Although, Switzerland, the two-hander from playwright Joanna Murray-Smith, is not an adaptation, it is a superb homage – via a kind of aggravated burglary – that appropriates the real Highsmith and adds her as a fictional character in one of her own unsettling tragedies.
Exploring the inner being of one of last century's most inscrutable and sequestered authors is no easy task. Director Nescha Jelk production achieves this difficult mission admirably.
The play pivots on a powerful self-importance. Highsmith (Sandy Gore) is living her final bad-tempered days as a recluse in Switzerland. An adolescent representative of her publisher arrives at the hermitage, hoping to persuade Highsmith to write another Ripley novel. Gore, portrays the murder mystery virtuoso as a curt, mordant and witty woman who delights in tearing the youngster to shreds. But, not all is as it seems and the youth becomes increasing calculating, until the staggering and captivating finale.
This is shock-and-awe theatre. Switzerland is an exhilarating production, led by a strong performance by Gore that flourishes through its clean narrative and taut direction.
State Theatre Company South Australia presents
by Joanna Murray-Smith
Director Nescha Jelk
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Dates: 20 Oct — 5 Nov 2017