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Switzerland is a complex dark play by Joanna Murray–Smith which is having its UK premiere at the Ustinov Studio as part of the summer season. It is an excellent two hander starring Phyllis Logan as Patricia Highsmith and Calum Finlay as Edward. It suggests a meeting between the infamous author Highsmith and a representative from her publishing agency who asks for just one more novel.

Highsmith is perhaps best known for creating Tom Ripley, a murderous character able to change his identity with ease ensuring he was never accountable for his crimes. Highsmith was also known to be a difficult visceral woman whose writing was perhaps an outlet for her darker thoughts and desires.

The plot of this dynamic, richly textured and frequently funny play revolves around the relationship between Highsmith and Ripley. Calum Finlay is outstanding as Edward, initially a bright eyed, earnest man whose control increases as the sinister under current begins to evolve.

Logan is a fabulously bad mouthed, drinking and smoking author. A great role to spar with Edward as the battle for power and the stalking games commence.

Director Lucy Bailey keeps the tension and pace ensuring the time speeds by with great focus from the characterisations.

 

Designer William Dudley captures both the isolation of the mountain side retreat and also the suffocating time warp that Highsmith chooses to live in. The collection of weapons is always evident alongside a framed picture of Hitchcock, a nod to the hugely successful adaptation of Strangers on a Train.

This is another example of The Ustinov challenging and ensuring that audiences have a balance of exciting new work with some of the finest casting available. It might well be useful to know something of Highsmith and her work but equally so it would not matter. This psychological thriller is beautifully executed by these two fine actors and not to be missed.

 

****

 

Petra Schofield