Jessica Osorio introduces Switzerland by Joanna Murray-Smith.
You recently directed Bombshells by Joanna Murray-Smith in November 2020. What inspired you to take on another of her productions?
I had originally submitted another play but as the rights were no longer available, I needed to find another play that was suitable in the current climate. I really enjoyed the writing and characters in Bombshells and had already read Switzerland previously prior to submitting last season. Although I had never read any of Patricia Highsmith’s books and knew very little about her, the play piqued my interest. It had two balanced roles, which would challenge both the director and actors. Audience and cast may well know her from The Talented Mr Ripley film, but like me are probably less familiar with her as a person, or her other work, and this play allows us to get to know more about her.
Tell us a bit about the characters we’ll meet and the themes that are explored.
In this play we meet Patricia Highsmith, the author, and Edward Ridgeway, ostensibly sent by her New York publisher to try and convince her to write a final Tom Ripley novel. It explores the relationship between them both, with some twists along the way, giving the audience an insight as to why she writes as she does and the influences of her life on her writing. It looks at differing perceptions and beliefs between characters of different ages, gender and upbringing.
What’s been the most enjoyable aspect of this project?
As ever the most enjoyable aspect of directing is working with two great actors, getting to know them, and seeing how the play develops throughout the rehearsal process. I got to know more about Patricia Highsmith, reading about her and also reading The Talented Mr Ripley, to do justice to JMS’s script. I enjoyed working with Caroline and Jo, neither of whom I have directed before, although Caroline is an established member of SLT, Joe is making his SLT debut.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this production?
A desire to read or re-read some Highsmith and watch the adaptations of her books The Talented Mr Ripley and Carol, as I am hoping to.
Switzerland runs September 28-October 2.