Direction: Susan Wilson (written by Joanna Murray-Smith)
Circa Theatre; Circa Two (March 17 – April 14)
Written by Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith, Switzerland imagines the crime writer Patricia Highsmith in her final days at home – hiding – in the Swiss Alps. She’s a grump, worse than that she’s racist, she’s a misanthrope; trusting of no one, bitter, miserable, a drinker with a savage wit. She’s possibly sure she has a downside or two also…
Enter Edward Ridgeway, the fresh-faced emissary from Highsmith’s New York publishing house. He’s there to get her to sign her life away to write “another Ripley” – we know that Tom Ripley is her most famous character, the books were turned into movies – and it’s something of a trophy and an albatross for Highsmith.
As a two-hander both Catherine Downes and Simon Leary are brilliant in their roles. The other star is Gareth Farr’s soundscapes-score, which wafts and drifts just so. It adds menace, ratchets tension and gives light and shade.
Unfortunately there’s something missing in this play. Something doesn’t quite sit, or work. Sure, there’s a massive spoiler I can’t reveal – a crucial bit of the plot. But even allowing for that there’s still something that doesn’t quite gel or work. Essentially we have a rumination on the writer’s life, being locked away with – and then usurped by, surpassed by – their characters.
But so what.
The writing is not up to enough here.
The actors are terrific. Particularly Leary – who has yet to stumble. At least not on my watch.
But I couldn’t get excited at all about this play in the end. Despite high hopes. So this is all the review I can muster.
I recognise it’s not up to much either.
Perhaps that’s fitting in the end.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron