SWITZERLAND by Joanna Murray-Smith
17 September – 3 October


Time has beaten us for a return of Switzerland this month.  Charlie is still in lockdown in Melbourne so opening on September 17 just isn’t going to happen.

Looking to the future we are still hopeful that we could be back in November/December.  It just depends on how things go over the next few weeks and that there are no cases in the local area.  Hang on to your tickets and we will arrange their transfer to new dates once things become clearer.  At the moment we will be restricted to audiences of 75 and mask-wearing will be mandatory.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.


Joanna Murray-Smith’s brilliant play Switzerland is the second production in the Drill Hall Theatre Company’s all-Australian 2021 season. Arguably the nation’s most successful playwright, Murray-Smith has written a play about the grande dame of best-selling crime literature, Patricia Highsmith.  

Highsmith lives with an impressive collection of books and a somewhat sinister collection of guns and knives. The novelist finds solace in her seclusion, her whisky and cigarettes until the hapless Mr Edward Ridgeway appears sent as an emissary by her publishing company in New York.

Murray-Smith makes no bones about Highsmith’s tendency to abuse. She is seen, towards the end of her life, as a rancorous loner railing at the New York literary establishment.  She is prone to racist rants and has a vicious smackdown for every occasion which challenges her visitor who has come to beg her to write one more book in The Ripley Series.

The director, Toni Scanlan says that “this Drill Hall production is a perfect platform for Liz Chance’s amazing skill as an actor while we will witness the rise of an emerging talent in Charlie Burton.”

A noted actor herself, the director informs us that “Liz plays the famous writer, Highsmith as an eccentric lesbian, homophobic, racist, hard-drinking, a brilliant would-be psychopath with excellent taste in soft furnishings. While Charlie who shows enormous promise, plays the mysterious and ambiguous intruder Edward Ridgeway”.

BayFMArts Canvass Podcast – 3 June 2021




Quotes from those who have seen the show

‘Dark and funny in the great tradition of psychological thrillers. The Drill Hall’s Switzerland excels on all levels!…’

‘Intelligently directed by Toni Scanlan with unforgettable performances by Liz Chance and rising star Charlie Burton…’

‘Engrossing, intelligent, and original. Switzerland keeps the audience on its toes to the very end.’

‘Beautifully realised with energy and freshness by Liz Chance and Charlie Burton.’

‘The plot twists and energy between Chance and Burton make Switzerland a sizzling production not-to-be missed!’

‘This is the kind of production that showcases the very best of community theatre. Well done, Drill Hall, you’ve done it again!’

‘I was left speechless by the marvellous acting and wonderful plot twists that surprise like a curveball.’

SWITZERLAND, is a riveting and classy production.’

‘This production excels on all levels. Murray-Smith’s script is dark and funny in the psychological thriller tradition. Charlie Burton takes the stage by storm.’

Switzerland is an engrossing, intelligent, original play which keeps the audience on its toes to the very end. It is beautifully realised with energy and freshness by Liz Chance and Charlie Burton. This is the kind of production that showcases the best of community theatre. Well done, Drill Hall, you’ve done it again.’

‘The energy between the two actors and the twists and turns of the story make Switzerland a sizzling event not to be missed.’

‘There’s a wonderful twist in Switzerland. What I saw on stage left me speechless. The acting is marvellous too, in the perfect match between roles and players – Liz Chance as the accomplished yet spent writer and Charlie Burton as the colt who won’t take no for an answer.’

‘Forget a dash to Sydney or Melbourne to see some top-rated live theatre; something much better is now showing in Byron Shire. Switzerland at the Drill Hall Theatre is an outstanding production. It is a psychological thriller propelled by stellar performances from Liz Chance and Charlie Burton. The set is atmospheric (lots of ornamental weapons of death) yet functional, and the lighting and music are so effective you swing to the belief that anything is possible. Plus a script by Joanna Murray-Smith that positively fizzes with wit and menace.’

‘A very clever play about writing. This Drill Hall production is intelligently directed by Toni Scanlan with unforgettable performances by Liz Chance and rising star Charlie Burton. Surprisingly very funny with a twist as you would expect from a play about Patricia Highsmith. Toni Appleton’s set is a marvel.’



Joanna Murray-Smith is one of our outstanding Australian playwrights and has had her plays and novels translated and performed widely around the world. According to the Australia Council, Joanna Murray-Smith, along with Daniel Keene, account for half of all foreign productions of Australian plays.

Switzerland was first performed by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2014 and in its review, the Sydney Morning Herald, had this to say about the play:

Switzerland is arguably Murray-Smith’s best play yet, and certainly one of her most entertaining. The playwright’s familiar strong suits – her barbed wit and effortless gift for verbal sparring, her feminist lens (which in this production burns a hole into sexism in literary publishing) – are totally in service to the dramatic whole in Switzerland, and they combine to form an unbeatable hand.

Whether you’re a mad Highsmith fan, or you’ve never heard of her, you’ll be chilled and gripped, amused and seduced by this pitch-perfect psychological thriller.”


Angry Young Penguins (1987); Atlanta (1990); Love Child (1993); Ridge’s Lovers (1993); Flame (1994); Honour (1995); Redemption (1997); Nightfall (1999); Rapture (2002); Bombshells (2004, written for Caroline O’Connor); The Female of the Species (2006); Ninety (2008), Scenes from a Marriage (2008); Rockabye (2009); Songs for Nobodies (2010); The Gift (2011); Day One, a Hotel, Evening (2011); True Minds (2013), Fury (2013); Switzerland, (2014); Pennsylvania Avenue (2014)


Truce (1994) Judgement Rock (2002) Sunnyside (2005)


The poems of Ern Malley (ed) (1988); Georgia, (film, 1988); Cassidy (1989, for ABC Television); “Mimi Goes to the Analyst” in Six Pack (1992, for SBS TV); “Greed” in Seven Deadly Sins (1993, for ABC Television); Lyrics to a song cycle about Harold Holt, music by Paul Grabowsky; Janus: episodes “Fit to Plead”, “An Unnatural Act”, “A Prima Facie Case” (1995, for ABC Television); Libretto to the opera Love in the Age of Therapy (2002) by Paul Grabowsky for Opera Australia, Melbourne Festival and Sydney Festival; Libretto to The Divorce (2015, for ABC Television)


  • Australian Film Institute Award nomination in 1989 for the screenplay to Georgia (shared with Ben Lewin, Bob Weis).
  • Braille Book of the Year for Judgement Rock
  • Victorian Premier’s Literary Award: Southbank Pacific Prize for Drama for Honour in 1996
  • Victorian Premier’s Literary Award: Louis Esson Prize for Drama for Rapture in 2003
  • Winner 2004 Fringe First Award, Edinburgh Festival Fringe for Bombshells
  • International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nomination in 2004 for Judgement Rock
  • Winner 2005 London Theatregoers Choice Award for Bombshells
  • Final list of twelve of the Miles Franklin Award in 2006 for Sunnyside
  • Co-winner New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards (Play Award) 2012 for The Gift



Toni trained at the Drama Centre, London. Her theatre credits include:

For Belvoir: Stop Girl & Ruben Guthrie.  Sydney Theatre Company: Blood Wedding, Our Town, Troupers, King Lear, Cuckoo’s Country and  Madras House. For Black Swan Theatre: Hir and Angels in America – Part One For Ensemble: Richard 111, Let the Sun Shine, A View From the Bridge, I’m Not Rappaport, All My Sons, The Price. For Riverside: Hamlet, King Lear. For The Darlinghurst Theatre, Good Works, Eternity Playhouse Grand opening show: All My Sons.. For QTC: Once in Royal David’s City, The Children, The Family, Too Young for Ghosts. For Q Theatre: Daylight Saving, Kid Stakes. For TN Theatre Co: Private Lives, Boy’s Own Macbeth, Cloud 9, The Conquests of Carmen Miranda. For Griffin Theatre: King Tide, Back Beat, White Nancy. For Playhouse Theatre: Fields of Heaven. For Her Majesty’s, Perth: Annie. For Hole in the Wall Theatre: In His Own Right, Under Milkwood. Film: The Forest, Vacant Possession, Loveless, Homebrew, Breakaway, Tenderhooks, Contact, High Tide. 

TV & Film includes Hearts & Bones, The Hiding, Crownies, Answered by Fire, MDA, Backberner, Crash Palace, Water Rats (Series Regular 6 years), Bordertown, Blue Heelers, GP. 

Awards: 2014 Sydney Theatre Awards winner for Best Actress in a Leading Role in an Independent Production, All My Sons.

2008 Sydney Theatre Awards winner for King Tide, by Kath Thomson. 

Toni’s Directing credits include, The Seagull, Cherry Orchard and Three Sisters for QUT.  A Cheery Soul for Waapa.



Liz Chance is a veteran of stage and screen and recalls her first big break into theatre when she was discovered in an acting class with the great Stella Adler. 

With more than 30 years’ experience as an actor, Liz has appeared on just about every Australian stage and in more television than she can remember, including A Country PracticeHome & AwayWater RatsBlue HeelersRafferty’s RulesG.P, and admits her first stage kiss was with Mel Gibson with the Sydney Theatre Company. For more than a decade, Liz also directed and taught at NIDA, teaching Australian luminaries including Cate Blanchett, Sam Worthington, Jeremy Simms, and Damon Gameau.

Liz first performed for the Drill Hall Theatre Company in 2015 in the title role of Joanna Murray-Smith’s Honour, and Mark Colvin’s Kidney by Tommy Murphy (2018)In 2020 she was appointed as the theatre’s Artistic Director, and most recently directed the return (sold-out) season of SHIT by Patricia Cornelius, marking the return of live theatre after Covid.

Liz is delighted to play Patricia Highsmith in Joanna Murray-Smith’s Switzerland.


Hello! I’m Charlie Burton and I play the role of Edward Ridgeway. I’ve loved the process of finding and developing this character so far.

I grew up in Mullum but am currently living in Melbourne, having come home at the start of May to begin rehearsal for this play. Acting is something I’m exceptionally passionate about and I am always enthralled at the prospect of getting to engage in theatre or other forms of acting.

I am currently studying at Melbourne Uni though hope to move my studies into the acting sphere next year.

Though difficult at times, working on Switzerland has been a thoroughly rewarding and exciting process and I am excited for everyone to see the finished product!


Liz Chance
Stage Manager
Briony Dalton
Geoffrey Moon
David Steward
Lighting Design
Alex Benham
Sound Design
Adam Booth
Props and Set Decoration
Natalie Holt
Set Design
Toni Appleton
Set Construction
Toni Appleton, Alex Benham, Geoffrey Moon
Publicity, Promotion & Marketing
Chris Benaud, Michael Borenstein, Mandy Nolan, Alex Benham
Toni Scanlan, Syd Geary
Photography Kate Holmes
Front of House Manager Michael Borenstein


Briony has been dabbling in acting for the past few years. An aspiring actress and scriptwriter, she is loving exploring the world of theatre and has already thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this fantastic production. She is consistently inspired and impressed by the level of talent coming out of the Northern Rivers, no less those involved in ‘Switzerland’, and she’s grateful for the opportunity to learn from this experience and all of these excellent humans.


After first being involved with the Drill Hall almost 40 years ago as an actor, Geoffrey has worked in a broad range of areas including clowning in Hyde Park for the festival of Sydney, touring schools with Theatre In Education productions for 20 years, NBN’s Big Dog, cabaret and more. “I have always maintained a keen interest in community theatre as an avenue for social benefit. A forum where the community can come together and share, with the community, skills, energy, and time. It is an honour and a joy to play my part ”


David has been a sound technician for ten years. Before joining the Drill Hall Theatre Company this year he worked with the team at Byron Theatre.

Audio production has always been a keen interest of David’s, which began with his father’s role as a radio engineer for the ABC.

Born and raised on a family farm in Bina Burra, David is a true country boy at heart with an undeniable passion for the arts.


Toni is returning to design for the stage after four decades of life and work designing buildings and landscapes in the Northern Rivers.

After leaving a UNSW architecture degree behind in 1968, she worked in set design for the ABC, Hong Kong TVB and the BBC. Always willing to volunteer for community theatre, she designed university revues, early Jane Street productions, charity shows in London and Federal Theatre Company plays in the 80’s.

She is delighted to be working with the Drill Hall Theatre Company.


Alex has been a part of the Drill Hall Theatre Company since 1985 and has been involved with most Drill Hall Theatre productions in one capacity or another ever since:  Stage Management; Acting and even a little Directing. These days he usually confines his involvement to light and sound where he no longer needs to learn lines.

Lighting design is always a team effort and often a challenge in a small theatre like the Drill, working with limited resources, but with the assistance from others, in this case: Lighting Designer, David Walton; Toni Scanlan, a director with artistic ideas of how she wished to light the set and assistance from Lighting Operator, Geoff Moon, we were able to come up with something we can be proud of.

Alex is also Treasurer of the company and part of the Building Committee, whose responsibility is to further develop the theatre, while managing the complexity of use by the Drill Hall Theatre Company and the general public.


Photos by Kate Holmes


Photos by Sunita Bailey

The Echo

Byron Shire Echo, 4 June 2021

Liz Chance stars in Switzerland at the Drill Hall 18 June–4 July. 

A Chance for Switzerland

The Drill Hall Theatre Company presents Joanna Murray-Smith’s gripping psychological thriller: Switzerland, arguably Murray-Smith’s greatest work to date.

The show stars Liz Chance (Blue HeelersWater RatsTender Hooks) under the direction of multi award-winning actor Toni Scanlan (Stop GirlDreamlandWater Rats).

The play introduces young actor Charlie Burton (the son of local comedian Mandy Nolan), for whom performing is a passion, and Toni was impressed from the outset. ‘The first time I heard Charlie read I thought – that boy has it going on. His instinct for such a complex psychological drama was beyond his years. Liz and I would not be doing this play without him.’

Switzerland at the Drill Hall

Looking for a little background 

Talented mr ripley.jpg The Talented Mr Ripley with Matt Damon, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow is on Netflix.  A fabulous stylish film that will give you some insight into the work of the terrifying  Ms Highsmith!