THEATRE – Switzerland – Dunstan Playhouse – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

Patricia Highsmith (Sandy Gore), acclaimed author and possessed of a somewhat challenging personality, is holed up in Switzerland when Edward from her publishing company (Matt Crook) arrives to convince her to sign up for one last book, a further tale of the talented Mr Ripley.

A verbal stoush ensues, punch followed by counter punch, as first Highsmith assumes the ascendancy before succumbing to the wiles and determination of the much younger Edward; it is an intense 90 minutes straight. The question that stays with the audience long after the applause is just who or what actually is Edward and does he come and go as the play progresses.

Gore is excellent, revelling in her role; the solitary, self-made figure, away from the literary critiquing swill, consumed by her writing passion and able to pick and choose her every move. Matt Crook makes full use of his opportunity to finally lead a State Theatre production after too many years in the wings, second behind some lesser talents. His Edward, full of youth and steely resolve lingers. Set against Ailsa Paterson’s spacious and opulent living room setting one can almost hear the chiming of cow bells outside.

Written by one of State Theatre’s favourites, Joanna Murray-Smith, Switzerland purports to be an examination of Patricia’s life – warts and all – “hostage to [her childhood]… forever driven by those early fears and longings.”  Yet, just how these moments fully impact her and the reasons for her prejudicial views never get fully developed. Indeed, her impending death and its imperatives are glazed over. Perhaps the force of a love of words and of writing is all we need to witness when examining other flaws might get in the way.

As mentioned it’s an intense 90 minutes but the actors keep you engrossed in the banter and the belief of both their characters.

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

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