BSSTC Switzerland Jenny Davis - photo by Robert FrithThe late Patricia Highsmith penned some of the most exhilarating suspense novels of all time, some becoming major cinematic adaptations including: The Price of Salt – recently released as the film Carol; The Talented Mr Ripley and Strangers on a Train.

Now the acerbic author herself is centre stage in this edge-of-your-seat thriller by acclaimed Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith (Honour, The Female of The Species, Ninety and Day One, A Hotel, Evening), as Black Swan State Theatre Company presents the WA premiere of Switzerland in the Heath Ledger Theatre from 19 August 2017.

Highsmith lives a reclusive life in the Swiss Alps surrounded by her collection of books and antique weapons. The unlikeable genius facing the end of her life has withdrawn completely from the world, finding solace in her seclusion, her cats and cigarettes.

Until one day a young man, Edward Ridgeway, intrudes into her place of refuge. He’s yet another irritating delegate from her publisher demanding a contract for one final instalment. Specifically another psychological thriller featuring her beloved muse and most infamous literary creation, Tom Ripley.

“As adeptly as Patricia Highsmith the novelist captures the psychological world of her characters, Joanna Murray-Smith captures the world and thoughts of Highsmith in her intriguing and intelligently crafted play,” says director Lawrie Cullen-Tait. “Highsmith corrupts the reader as we find ourselves not wanting the perpetrator to get caught, continually exploring the notion of transgression and conscience.”

Winner of the Best New Australian Work at the 2014 Sydney Theatre Awards, and programmed by almost every state theatre company in the country – it’s now Black Swan’s turn to lure you into a booby-trapped plot, a tense and furious battle of wills and words.

Patricia Highsmith created some of the greatest suspense novels in modern literature, writing dozens of works that would become notorious for their startling violence and unstable, morally ambiguous characters. She became best known for the Ripley series and its eponymous criminal hero; a seductive, amoral libertine who gets away with murder. Highsmith was born in Texas in 1921, and died alone in Switzerland in 1995.

Joanna Murray-Smith is one of Australia’s most nationally and internationally acclaimed playwrights. Her work has been nominated for many awards including the Olivier Award for Best Comedy for The Female of the Species. Her other plays include Three Little Words; Pennsylvania Avenue; Fury; True Minds; Day One, A Hotel, Evening; The Gift; Rockabye; Ninety; Bombshells; Honour; Redemption; Love Child; American Song; and the smash-hit, Songs for Nobodies.

In 2016, Murray-Smith was the inaugural winner of the Mona Brand writing award. She has previously been awarded two Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for Drama, the Braille Book of the Year Award, Edinburgh Fringe First Award and the London Theatregoers Choice Award. She was also a finalist for the 2006 Miles Franklin Award and was nominated for the 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Director: Lawrie Cullen-Tait Featuring: Jenny Davis Giuseppe Rotondella Sound Designer: Ash Gibson Greig Set & Costume Designer: Bruce McKinven Lighting Designer: Lucy Birkinshaw Fight Director: Andy Fraser Vocal Coach: Julia Moody Assistant Director: Susie Conte (Secondment)

Heath Ledger Theatre – State Theatre Centre of WA, 182 William Street, Perth
Season: 23 August – 3 September 2017 (previews: 19 – 22 August)
Information and Bookings: www.bsstc.com.au

Image: Jenny Davis stars in Switzerland – photo by Robert Frith