Wednesday, October 25, 2017

reviews - SWITZERLAND - Theatre Artists Studio

Patti Suarez and Joshua Vern
photo by Mark Gluckman
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)
Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 5th.

"Joanna Murray-Smith's 2014 drama Switzerland ...pays homage to American psychological thriller author Patricia Highsmith. In Theatre Artists Studio's production, the always perfect Patti Suarez expertly plays Highsmith. The play, while intriguing, isn't entirely as successful. Highsmith is best known for writing "Strangers on a Train," ...and the series of crime novels which featured the character Tom Ripley..Though born in the United States, Highsmith lived her later years as a recluse in Switzerland. Murray-Smith's play is set toward the end of Highsmith's life when a young associate of her publisher arrives at her Swiss home to attempt to convince her to write one final Ripley novel. The manipulative and bitter Highsmith, who basically hated everyone and everything, has the upper hand in the tense negotiations, but the cat and mouse game this duo plays finds the roles constantly switching and the line between fact and fiction a very blurry one....The play has a few distinct sections, but the long first segment, which includes the setup of the plot and introduction of the characters, has a repetitive tone that doesn't quite pull you into the story. ...It doesn't have much momentum, which a good thriller clearly needs. There is also a lack of a true sense of danger. It is only in the last segment when there is a distinct change in tone that the play truly comes alive. Suarez has no problem evoking the condescending and highly opinionated nature of Highsmith with a powerful performance and dialogue full of fire...From Suarez's firm delivery, she clearly shows that words are Highsmith's weapon of choice. ...Joshua Vern is equally skilled in portraying a fanboy who is out to prove himself and can't believe the situation he is in—conversing with and even partially collaborating with the famous novelist. When the plot shifts toward the end of the play, both Suarez and Vern's chameleon-like acting abilities flex and morph before our eyes to deliver an ending with both a quiet solitude and a biting sting. Director Brad Allen does a fairly good job in making sure his actors balance the changing shifts in their characters successfully. His blocking works well to show the intricate dance the hunter and the hunted exhibit in a good thriller...While the plot device that Murray-Smith has created is interesting, and her play explores some provocative themes, the static tone in the first half gets the drama off to a rocky start. Fortunately, two skilled performers are at the helm, and they are able to steer this ship slowly to a thrilling conclusion.. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...This wickedly entertaining two-hander depicts an elderly...Highsmith (the always great Patti Suarez) engaged in a battle of wits with a young man (Joshua Vern) dispatched by her publisher to persuade her to write one last book about her dashing, amoral alter ego.....“Switzerland’s” wow moments...are the plot twists, and director Brad Allen choreographs them with skill. ....(not) likely to earn classic status, but... certainly speak(s) to the cultural anxieties of today." Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

"....the deliciously absorbing production of SWITZERLAND...features scintillating performances by Patti Suarez and Joshua Vern....It is this version of Patricia Highsmith ~ possessed of misanthropy, disaffection, depression, and cynicism ~ that Murray-Smith has conjured. And it is Patti Suarez who, in turn, has seized the role and delivered a singularly compelling portrayal, rich with nuance and bite.
For his part, Joshua Vern is a literal work in progress, evolving with every sling and arrow that is tossed at him into a character of surprising dimension....director Brad Allen has done a superb job in setting the right tempo and mood for this stirring production.... " Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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