What about mountains says psychodrama? The bloody death on snow promises to be aesthetic and isolation breeds discontent, as Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall recently demonstrated, and as Joanna Murray-Smith’s play Switzerland is set to during its forthcoming season with the Auckland Theatre Company.
“Please try to notice if every artist isn’t ruthless in some way,” were the words of a young Patricia Highsmith to her diary, written while on a residency in Upstate New York in 1948. Then only twenty-seven years old, the writer would later commit herself to this ruthlessness—in people, in the world—through her fiction. How this seeped into her person (she was famously as cold as she was brilliant) is what Murray-Smith explores in her script, which follows the encounter between Highsmith (Sarah Peirse) and Edward (Jarred Blakiston), a young publisher who has come to her alpen home in an attempt to convince her to write another book for her Tom Ripley series. Taking cues from its subject’s work, the implied neutrality of Switzerland’s title is a misnomer: tension is rife and requisite, and the characters walk the cusp of murderousness throughout its ninety-five-minute run-time.
Switzerland premieres on 19 September at Tāmaki Makaurau’s ASB Waterfront Theatre and runs through to 7 October.