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Event: Switzerland – Sep/Oct 2023

Playwright Joanna Murray-Smith’s acclaimed razor-edged, Switzerland opens at the ASB Waterfront Theatre on September 19 until October 7. The fast-paced psychological thriller is presented by Auckland Theatre Company, after sell out seasons in Sydney and Melbourne, as the playfully clever closing production of the 30th Anniversary season. With the support of Presenting Partner MiNDFOOD.

Award-winning New Zealand actor Sarah Peirse (Heavenly CreaturesRain, Offspring, The Hobbit) reprises “the role of her career” (Limelight, 2014) as the formidable American writer, Patricia Highsmith and is joined by Jarred Blakiston (Shortland Street, The Haka Party Incident, The Wild’s) who stars as the young dashing publisher in this brilliant cat and mouse ride.

Under the skilful direction of Australian director Sarah Goodes – who directed the Sydney Theatre Company production of Switzerland with Peirse in 2014 and again for Melbourne Theatre Company in 2016 – audiences are in for a riveting performance.

Inspired by the difficult and prickly master crime novelist Patricia Highsmith, Switzerland is a work of fiction with an anchor of truth. This original thriller begins with a knock at the door and spirals into a calculated contest of wits and words. An earnest, clean-cut young man – Edward – sent from Highsmith’s publisher’s office in New York turns up at her secluded Swiss alpine retreat to convince her to write a final book in the Ripley series. But Patricia decided long ago that she didn’t like people, and she certainly doesn’t like this young man. But he’s wilier than she first supposes and a breathtaking battle of wits unfolds as Highsmith and her visitor interrogate identity, fame and the art of creation. Crackling with clever banter and bristling with tension, this enthralling meta-thriller is a white-knuckle ride to the finish.

Highsmith created some of the greatest suspense novels in modern literature, writing dozens of works including The Talented Mr Ripley, The Price of SaltStrangers on a Train 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. Patricia Highsmith was born in Texas in 1921 and died alone in Switzerland in 1995.

Director Sarah Goodes said, ‘Joanna Murray-Smith’s Switzerland is a thrilling ride into the dark centre of one of the great writers of our time. A thriller at its heart it is also a journey into a psychological space that explores transformation and the act of creativity.’

Sarah Goodes says, ‘Sarah Peirse is a perfect match for Joanna’s tight, dark and sharply witty writing. This is the third time I have worked with actor Sarah Peirse, I am continually caught off guard by her ability to plunge into the lowest depths of the human psyche – and emerge to present them with such truthfulness and a strange unnerving flagrant casualness. It is both thrilling to work with and watch.’

Auckland Theatre Company presents

SWITZERLAND by Joanna Murray-Smith

September 19 – October 7, 2023

ASB Waterfront Theatre, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

Tickets and info 0800 ATC TIX

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