Switzerland @ State Theatre Centre 22/8

Photo credit: Phillip Gostelow

Photo credit: Phillip Gostelow

Playwright: Joanna Murray-Smith

Directed by: Lawrie Cullen-Tait

Starring: Jenny Davis & Giuseppe Rotondella

Switzerland is theatre at its most simplest and refined, eschewing all the bells and whistles in favour of good writing and drama.

The story of Switzerland imagines an alternate version of the real Patricia Highsmith, living in self-imposed exile in the titular country, nestled away in a retreat the mountains, whilst the world passes her by, no longer actively writing novels. Edward Ridgeway, a fan of Highsmith’s novels who works for a publishing company, travels all the way to convince Highsmith to write one final Tom Ripley novel, but gets more than he bargained for when he meets the real author, and finds himself in a battle of wits.

Switzerland is constructed as a simple two-hander, but within this structure, the twists and turns are genuinely engaging, as each character tries to break down and dissect the other. The build-up to the play’s surprising Shaymalan-esque conclusion is the bread and butter (and I suppose, wine?), even though the actual delivery of the final part of the play felt abrupt and out of sync with the beginning and middle parts of the story- a real, rushed let-down to be quite honest. The staging of the play itself is fancy, and luxurious, with every nook, cranny and thread taken account for. Overall, the entire vibe of the ensemble exudes class.

Special mention must be given to the quality of the language used throughout the play. The delivery of each word, and turn of phrase is what makes the entire ensemble very much worth watching. Hell I’d probably want to read the script alone. And with all ears on the words, there are very few aural cues and other sound pieces to distract the audience’s attention, allowing us to focus on every word spoken.

Switzerland is a fine piece of theatre. The sort of theatre that assures you of its future in the current era.

Switzerland runs until September 3.

Clayton Lin