The entire play is set in a competitive swimming club, the action taking place beside the pool itself, which is brilliantly brought to life onstage by The Road’s enviable set designers. Ray is the swimmer, he has been all his life and it is absolutely the only thing he is any good at. He’s rapidly aging out of it, however, and this is his last chance at qualifying for the US Olympic team. His last chance at succeeding, his last chance at avoiding getting a real job, so the stakes for him are very, very high. His brother Peter has a lot on the line too. He is banking on Ray being his ticket out of his tedious life as a lawyer and plans on facilitating his family's ever-over-extended lifestyle with his cut of Ray’s earnings from sports sponsorships and media appearances. He sees this as the beginning of his new career as a sports agent, hoping he can make millions, and plus, his daughter's school fees are “astronomical.”
Coronado Romero, Adam Peltier and Jason E. Kelley
But there’s a problem. On the eve of the qualifying rounds for which Ray is a shoe-in to win, a large stash of what looks like performance-enhancing drugs has been discovered by the team’s coach in the fridge in his own office, of all places. The coach is intent on turning the drugs into the authorities and dashing the chances of his entire team as a consequence.
This is where we begin our story, at the exact moment when the coach tells Ray and Peter that he feels he has no ethical choice but to ruin both their lives. Peter tries to appeal to absolutely anything he can within the coach, but to little avail. Ray insists the drugs belong to another swimmer and the coach does believe him, but they all know that, regardless, the authorities will assume that the entire team are all doping and shut them down…so no Olympics.
Is this play about ethics?
I’m not sure it is really. The relationship between Peter and Ray is a weird one, but what siblings don’t have weird relationships from time to time. Ray, as it turns out, has a far from pure past and and Peter’s feverish belief that money will make his life so much better and less stressful is naive to say the least. The pressure these two put on each other is excruciating and quite brilliantly portrayed by these two excellent and highly watchable actors. We sit quietly squirming in our seats as the situation goes further and further off the rails. As it escalates and deviates and dodges and surprises us. The sheer magnitude of manipulation by Ray with not only Peter but the coach and even his ex-girlfriend, whom he summons under the pretext of love and marriage only to hit her up for steroids since his are now locked away in the coaches office…yes, they were his and yes he needs them to qualify. It’s just one twist after another as the intensity builds to murderous levels.
Adam Peltier and Kimberly Alexander
“The Red Speedo” is a lesson in unrestrained greed.
Greed for money, greed for success and the eternal greed for unearned respect and love. It’s also a really beautifully constructed story. The characters are us at our least admirable and most shamefully human. Everyone has their way with each other in the end and what is left is both shockingly real and deftly original.
“The Red Speedo” is really excellent theatre, no holds barred, adrenaline-infused, thought-provoking and powerful…and I highly recommend it.
The writing is effortless, quick and smart and a bit nerve-wracking at times and very, very funny. The playwright, Lucas Hnath, has received the Kesselring Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Award, two Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award Citations, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New Play, and an Obie…not too shabby. The director, Joe Banno, has directed over 130 plays in the US and Italy and has taken four fabulous actors and a demanding play and made theatre magic, the rarest kind of magic that stays with you long after you leave the theatre. The Road Theatre has a knack for choosing plays that astonish and challenge us and they never, ever play it safe, for which we should all be extremely grateful.
Written by Lucas Hnath
Directed by Joe Banno
Running May 11 through June 1, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm.
The Road Theatre on Magnolia, The NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood.
“Red Speedo” will feature Adam Peltier as Ray, Coronado Romero as Peter, Jason E. Kelley as Coach and Kimberly Alexander as Lydia.
The Design Team for “Red Speedo” is as follows: Set Design by Stephen Gifford; Lighting Design by Derrick McDaniel; Sound Design by Chris Moscatiello; Costume Design by Mary Jane Miller. Properties Design by Tally McCormack. “Red Speedo” is produced by Donna Simone Johnson and Maurie Gonzalez