Laura Linney to play Patricia Highsmith at Geffen Playhouse

Laura Linney got a Tony nomination for a 2010 production of "Time Stands Still."
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Laura Linney will play the role of American novelist Patricia Highsmith in the new stage drama “Switzerland” at the Geffen Playhouse, the company will announce Tuesday. The two-person cast will include up-and-coming actor Seth Numrich as the young man who visits the cantankerous mystery writer at her secluded home in the Alps.

“Switzerland,” by Joanna Murray-Smith, is set to open March 13 and will run through April 19 at the Geffen’s Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater. Previews are slated to start March 6. (The dates for the play have changed slightly from the company’s season announcement last year.)

The engagement will mark the U.S. premiere of “Switzerland” after its debut last year at the Sydney Theatre Co. in Australia, where it was performed with a different cast.

Murray-Smith, who hails from Australia, has become a familiar name at the Geffen, which has produced a number of her plays, including “The Female of the Species” and “The Gift.” Mark Brokaw will direct the Geffen’s staging of “Switzerland.”

Highsmith wrote many mystery novels during her long career, most notably the Tom Ripley series and “Strangers on a Train.” Her books, many of which have been adapted for the movies, have been noted for their masterful plotting and cold, calculating characters.

The Texas-born writer spent much of her adult life in Europe. She died in 1995 in Locarno, Switzerland.

Linney has performed numerous roles on stage, including a 2010 production of “Time Stands Still” by Donald Margulies on Broadway that earned her a Tony Award nomination. Numrich recently appeared in a London production of “Sweet Bird of Youth” and on Broadway in the plays “War Horse” and “Golden Boy.”

The Geffen commissioned “Switzerland” and granted production rights to the Sydney Theatre Co. for the co-world premiere.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT