Red Speedo: Theater review by Adam Feldman
Ray (Alex Breaux) is bad at hiding things. A swimmer with a chance at Olympic glory and a lucrative endorsement deal, he spends all of Lucas Hnath’s Red Speedo nearly naked: a slab of ultra-lean meat in a bathing suit. He’s not smart, rich or happy; he can only swim, and even that may end if the dope is caught doping. Like everyone around him—his sleazy lawyer brother (Lucas Caleb Rooney), his coach (Peter Jay Fernandez), his ex-girlfriend (Zoë Winters)—Ray lives in a bubble of self-deception and rationalization, but he can barely conceal how hard it is to breathe in there.
Hnath’s swift, slippery play moves in Mametian lunges of rapid dialogue and desperate gambits. It’s full of opportunists whose stories don’t check out, and the actors speak in clipped, deliberate ways. Warmer performances could enhance the play, but the chill fits Red Speedo’s dissection of ambition. Testosterone, Ray tells himself, only evens a field that’s already genetically and economically unfair. Doesn’t he deserve a shot at what he calls “the American thing”? He means dream, probably, but the word is out of reach for this beast of burden, whose greatest hope is to brand himself.—Adam Feldman
New York Theatre Workshop (Off Broadway). By Lucas Hnath. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hrs 15mins. No intermission.