Previewed 10 November 2018, Opened 19 November 2018, Closed 5 January 2019 at the Ambassadors Theatre in London
The West End Premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith's thriller Foxfinder in London starring Phyllis Logan and Calum Finlay
It is 1995. In the Swiss Alps a reclusive author hides away in her study, surrounded by her collection of books and antique weaponry, finding solace in her seclusion, her cats and cigarettes. The author is Patricia Highsmith, the queen of the thriller, now ageing and ailing. Vitriolic, bigoted and alcoholic, her eccentricities are the stuff of legend.
A polished young man turns up, sent by her New York publisher to persuade the great writer to pen one final instalment of her best-selling series featuring the master manipulator, Tom Ripley. But as day breaks over the mountains, it becomes clear that the charming stranger is set on a far more sinister mission.
Filled with razor-sharp dialogue, this chilling and sometimes hilarious two-hander unfolds into a gripping psychological thriller.
The cast features Phyllis Logan as 'Patricia Highsmith' and Calum Finlay as 'Edward Ridgeway' - who both reprise their roles from the original August 2018 Bath production. Directed by Lucy Bailey with designs by William Dudley, lighting by Chris Davey and sound by Mic Pool.
When this production opened here at London's Ambassadors Theatre in September 2018, Neil Norman in the Daily Express described it as being an "artful two-hander," adding that "Phyllis Logan is magnificently ghastly... "Calum Finlay's Edward parries her insults with professional ease," in "Lucy Bailey's solid production." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail highlighted that the "90 minutes are well-acted and there is a good twist near the end, but this two-hander is possibly a little too cryptic... Phyllis Logan is convincingly horrible as Patricia Highsmith... Calum Finlay is excellent as the apparently naive New Yorker." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard complained that "this laborious two-hander from Joanna Murray-Smith... is deathly dull stuff... Disappointing." Ann Treneman in the Times explained that "the plot is unbelievable from the start and that is its downfall, for plausibility, as readers of any Highsmith novel will know, is key... The acting is good and keeps us interested, if sometimes barely." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times though that "not even a flinty performance by Phyllis Logan, a world away from her Downton Abbey housekeeper persona, can make these 95 minutes compelling... this production lacks either mystery or the Hitchcockian suspense of anticipating the inevitable."
Phyllis Logan is best known for her television work, playing 'Mrs Hughes' from 2010 to 2015 in the BBC's period drama Downton Abbey, and 'Lady Jane Felsham' from 1986 to 1993 in the BBC's drama mystery series Lovejoy.
Calum Finlay's West End theatre credits include the role of 'Rosencrantz' in Robert Icke's revival of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2017, and the role of 'Aubespine' in Robert Icke's revival of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2018.
This production was originally seen at Bath's Theatre Royal's Studio Theatre (previewed from 1 August 2018, opened on 9 August 2018, and closed on 1 September 2018) when the cast featured Phyllis Logan as 'Patricia Highsmith' and Calum Finlay as 'Edward Ridgeway'.
When this production originaly opened at the Studio Theatre at Bath's Theatre Royal in August 2018, Michael Billington in the Guardian highlighted that, although "it is possible to second-guess one plot revelation, the play is pleasantly gripping and, in Lucy Bailey’s production, very well acted." Sam Marlowe in the Times said that: "It looks so good on paper... what a disappointment, then, that this play never delivers on its tantalising promise. Joanna Murray-Smith loads Switzerland with mouthwatering menace, but her dialogue strains too deliberately for literary effect, her characters remain as flat as the pages they're stolen from and the plot goes off half-cocked with a badly bungled, nonsensical climax... There's still the odd glint of wicked pleasure; but the blade, though shiny, is blunt."
"In the chillingly charismatic Tom Ripley, Patricia Highsmith created one of the most enduring characters of modern detective fiction. And here Murray-Smith imagines an episode at the end of the author's life when Edward Ridgeway, a young emissary from her American publishers, urges her to write a final Ripley novel which, he declares, will secure her literary reputation... It is an exemplary thriller with Murray-Smith constantly teasing and challenging expectations... Director Lucy Bailey ratchets up the tension until the last twist. Although the action is confined to Highsmith's living room, the Swiss setting is crucial. Murray Smith mines it for its full symbolic value, both exploring and exposing Highsmith's authorial neutrality. As we sit mesmerised by the brutal cat-and-mouse game, she forces us to reassess our own moral code." The Sunday Express
"In Joanna Murray-Smith’s intriguing drama a sensitive publisher’s assistant named Edward Ridgeway visits the ailing crime writer Patricia Highsmith in her isolated Alpine home. His mission is to get the old battle-axe to write one last novel featuring her greatest creation: the sympathetic sociopath Tom Ripley... Phyllis Logan and Calum Finlay make convincing sparring partners... this is Murray-Smith’s show. Switzerland is a witty literary game that leaves you debating at least three possible interpretations." The Sunday Times
Switzerland in London at the Ambassadors Theatre previewed from 10 November 2018, opened on 19 November 2018 and closed on 5 January 2019