Live performances do it better
By Ralph McAllister
It is not often that a modern play satisfies one’s personal tastes in diverse ways.
Switzerland by Joanne Murray-Smith does just that.
I read many thrillers.
- The Woman in the Window is Hitchcockian in its plotting and stunningly climactic.
- Hangman has a cannabilistic hero(?) with whom you begin to take sides.
- A Killer Harvest transplants eyes to give the hero (?) different insights.
I loved these works because they help view the darker sides of life from the comfort of the armchairs.
But as with all good theatre, live performance can sometimes do it better.
Patricia Highsmith – escapee
Meet Patricia Highsmith, the heroine (?) of Switzerland who has fled America to lead a reclusive life and death in the mountains .
She has written over 20 novels. She is tolerated in America for her Ripliad, her five thrillers centred on Tom Ripley, and revered in France for her oeuvre.
Into her sheltered snail and whisky ridden life comes a young agent, Edward Ridgeway, seeking her signature for the next book.
She welcomes him with a vituperative nastiness, a relentlessly ugly and funny and racist intolerance.
Let battle commence!
And so the duplicitous battle begins.
A wonderful plot based partly in truth with large dollops of terror, makes us watch the 90 minutes with a mixture of love and hate and deep concentration.
This is the theatrical thriller for you.
Susan Wilson offers us one of her finest productions with a creepy set from Tony De Goldi, short musical interludes from the ubiquitous Gareth Farr, and a stunning cast of combatants.
Two of them.
Brilliant performances by the leads
Simon Leary as shy then sexy then menacing Edward, may be doing his best work to date.
He responds to Catherine Downes, Patricia , with rigour and just the right balance of ingénue and sleaze.
Downes gives one of the performances of a lifetime, and as someone who has known her work for almost a lifetime, I speak with authority.
She manages to make this monster, and make no mistake about it, Highsmith is a monster, a figure of fear, fun and pathos.
Watch her tirades, shades of Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the crumpled despair as she hears what could be the truth about her life, shades of Masha in Three Sisters.
I am not what I am says Iago.
And nothing is as it seems with these two either.
A richly entertaining evening ,just watch out for the knife!
Sent from my iPad