March 3, 2016

A bright slip of a swimsuit seems a small garment on which to hang a knotty morality play, but the ingenious Lucas Hnath engineers this remarkable feat with “Red Speedo,” a taut, incisive drama at New York Theater Workshop about a swimmer with high Olympic hopes and a waterlogged ethical compass. Ray, played by the terrific Alex Breaux, has spent his life in the water, essentially, and is preparing for the upcoming Olympic trials as the play begins. (The sleek set, by Riccardo Hernandez, is a gym with an actual pool, a slice of which fronts the stage.) But a scandal at the swim club where he trains has the potential to derail his dream. A cooler stocked with performance-enhancing drugs was found in the club refrigerator. Ray has told his coach (Peter Jay Fernandez) that he heard the drugs belonged to a fellow swimmer, but in the tense opening scene, Ray’s brother Peter (Lucas Caleb Rooney), a lawyer who is also his de facto manager, vociferously argues that even a whiff of controversy about doping could damage his brother’s reputation — and potentially ruin the coach’s future, too. He makes the case that the coach serves everyone’s best interests by tossing the drugs in the toilet and hushing the whole episode up.