We’d all like to think of ourselves as honest, pure and upright. In reality, not so much.
In this new play at Center Rep in Walnut Creek, everyone is flawed, just like real life. On a simple stage designed like a swimming stadium, complete with water-filled pool, the story plays out in a brilliant new drama.
Ray (Max Carpenter) is an Olympic hopeful swimmer, though he is as dumb as a bag of hammers. Peter (Gabriel Marin), his brother, is a very fast talking attorney hoping to represent Ray on his rise to swimming superstar. He is talking very very fast today, because an ice chest full of performance enhancing drugs was found in the refrigerator.
Coach (Michael Asberry) need to keep his star on his team. He talks a good game about the rules, but when push comes to shove………………
And Lydia,(Rosie Hallett), Ray’s ex-girlfriend, is willing to bend the rules for a friend, and maybe help herself a bit, too.
All of this plays out in one 80 minute, uninterrupted act now playing at the Lesher Center. Written by Lucas Hnath, Red Speedo is a new play, premiering here. The director is Markus Potter, imported from New York for the occasion.
Everyone breaks the rules. Everyone can justify their own behavior. And each person’s weakness causes problems for the others, resulting in a vicious circle of crisis.
The acting here is wonderful. Gabriel Mann, as Peter, has enormously long speeches full of his desperation, deception, lies, justifications and scheming that will leave you stunned. Max Carpenter as Ray has the perfect smooth swimmers body clad only in his red Speedo, exhibiting perfect comic timing while seemingly stupid as a box of rocks.
Lydia wants to run away from her problems. Coach will do what it takes in the crunch. These people are all us, trying to get through life, bending, breaking and crushing the rules when they think they have to. Sometimes they cheat because they think (possibly correctly) that everyone else is cheating and they have to level the field. Nobody is perfect, nobody can resist taking an edge when the chips are down.
There is a lot to think about in this play, crammed into a brief, amusing, entertaining package. Sort of like a red speedo.