Red Speedo
77

Red Speedo NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(122 Reviews)
Positive
84%
Mixed
13%
Negative
3%
Members say
Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking

About the Show

New York Theatre Workshop presents a play about sports, survival of the fittest, and the American dream of a level playing field—or leveling the playing field yourself.

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Member Reviews (122)

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77
Interesting, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Surprising, Great acting

See it if Well written and acted. Great set. Fast paced after initial setting up and full of twists. Realistic flawed characters.

Don't see it if You want a play with any traditional hero.

70
Great acting, Great staging

See it if You're interested in stories about doing what it takes to get what you want.

Don't see it if If you need a little less talk and a little more action. It does pick up steam after awhile.

70
Absorbing, Original, Thought-provoking

See it if you have enjoyed previous plays by the very talented Lucas Hnath. Although a slightly lesser effort, a nice addition to his oeuvre.

Don't see it if you are looking for a light comedy or unchallenging drama.

89
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want to wonder about the ethics of Big Sport Money, The Media and our society

Don't see it if you want dancing singing and dazzle.

80
Absorbing, Great staging, Great writing, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if you like well made plays that are character driven. A pair of brothers depend on each other but have individual needs creating opposition.

Don't see it if you are looking for something light or silly. There are many funny moments but this is serious drama.

81
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy topical plays, see a dazzling set, enjoy stage confrontations and delicious twists, enjoy good acting and see a great young actor

Don't see it if Sports stories don't interest, don't like shows without an easy resolution, don't like plays in which all characters act badly

75
Disturbing, Great writing, Intense, Relevant, Sad

See it if you want to see a fascinating exploration of what happens when you combine the pressure of success with money and family.

Don't see it if you like a fun night out.

79
Relevant, Violent, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if You like sports stories. You like stories about issues. You like unique staging. You don't mind violence portrayed on stage.

Don't see it if You don't like sports stories. You don't like violence on stage. You want a light comedy.

Critic Reviews (27)

The New York Times
March 3rd, 2016

"With fragmented dialogue that often comes at you like artillery fire, 'Red Speedo' recalls the (good) work of David Mamet, distilled and compressed...But Mr. Hnath’s voice and style are fundamentally his own. There’s an elemental, stylized simplicity to his work that focuses attention on the meanings behind the matters at hand...The characters are palpably, at times movingly, human in their complexity...'Red Speedo' only grows in intensity as the clock winds down on its brief running time."
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Time Out New York
March 3rd, 2016

"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...Doesn’t [Ray] 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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
March 3rd, 2016

"Blain-Cruz’s work here is also a brilliant rendering of a difficult text, one that reads nearly like gibberish on the page but plays like a thriller onstage...It takes some very smart acting to get that kind of unintelligence just right. Also some very smart playwriting. If 'Red Speedo' is not, finally, as profound as 'The Christians' — the pool is only four-foot deep — that’s doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Shallows, too, are worth exploring."
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The Hollywood Reporter
March 3rd, 2016

"Unfortunately, the provocative themes are undercut by mannered dialogue, one-note characterizations and melodramatic, contrived plotting. The play is also, despite all its sensationalism, so tedious that the frequent blasting of an air horn between scenes seems necessary to keep the audience awake...For all their hard-working efforts and those of the other performers, 'Red Speedo' is disappointingly skimpy."
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New York Post
March 3rd, 2016

"As in last year’s 'The Christians,' Hnath tackles moral issues without lecturing...The production is overall superb, and Breaux, who spends the entire time in the title trunks, has the right balance of doofus earnestness and selfish cunning. It all culminates in a physically and emotionally bruising conclusion that left a recent audience reeling."
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New York Daily News
March 3rd, 2016

"Welcome to the dopey drama 'Red Speedo,' written by Lucas Hnath and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Logic and even remotely authentic-sounding dialogue have sunk to the bottom of the deep end. This is an 80-minute exercise in unconvincing broad strokes...Yes, the set, which includes a one-lane pool, is splashy. But so is a bellyflop."
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AM New York
March 3rd, 2016

"The tank is an impressive touch, and the lead actor swims a lap or two in it, but the real reasons to see 'Red Speedo' lie in Hnath’s lean and muscular writing, his complicated characters, and their desperate situations and morally questionable responses, all of which come to light in Lileana Blain-Cruz’s brutally focused production."
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Theatermania
March 3rd, 2016

"Director Lileana Blain-Cruz thrives within the physical constraints of the production, leading the cast to thrilling and dangerous performances...As he did with 'The Christians,' Hnath raises hugely important questions about our society and the occasionally perverse behavior it encourages...As always, Hnath leaves us to slug it out after the show, a fight certain to be as exhausting and fruitless as the one at the end of this troubling and truthful play."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 4th, 2016

"Red Speedo moves at a lightning pace through a series of confrontations spiked with stiletto-sharp dialogue reminiscent of David Mamet at his best...Under Lileana Blain-Cruz's tightly coiled direction, the entire cast delivers...Hnath has thoroughly dismantled the media-spun clichés that inform modern sports culture, the winning-is-the-only-thing philosophy that has produced a pantheon of sports heroes who are indistinguishable from felons. This young playwright continues to impress."
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Talkin' Broadway
March 3rd, 2016

"It's a bit of a jumble of content, and neither Hnath nor his director quite make it cohere...Aside from a pitch-perfect physical production, what you get instead are moments of intensity and insight separated by literal and figurative splashes that douse what sparks are generated...You get a lot of broad strokes that verge dangerously on caricature and shock-driven staging from Blain-Cruz that imparts an unconvincing urgency."
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TheaterScene.net
March 18th, 2016

"The play is made up of a series of six confrontations in which the dialogue is delivered like bullets flying back and forth. While the story is engrossing, the individual conversations all go on a bit too long, and get tiresome before they are each over. Then the next one takes us by surprise all over again."
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CurtainUp
March 7th, 2016

"As impressively directed by newcomer to New York Lileana Blain-Cruz, strikingly designed and powerfully performed, the plot moves forward with a series of scenes, each of which focuses on one character's rationale for the moral compromises made...'Red Speedo' isn't quite as unique as 'The Christians' but it once again confirms Mr. Hnath as a distinctive new voice in the theater."
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Front Row Center
March 22nd, 2016

"A sharp-edged production…Playwright Lucas Hnath and director Lileana Blain-Cruz have taken a decidedly Brechtian approach to the story...Hnath’s script is full of wonderful little plot twists, and keen observations. But the actors are intentionally stilted in their delivery, consciously pausing just a beat too long in picking up their cues...However, it provides the pleasantly unexpected result of making you replay each line in your head as they are fired off."
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Stage Buddy
March 14th, 2016

"Hnath is a vital force in today’s theater scene, in part because of his commitment to experimenting with language. In 'Red Speedo', the players deliver their lines in staccato bursts as if they are, dare I say it, gasping for breath. Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like the play is built upon unfinished sentences in more than just styling. For all of its intellect and careful, heartfelt acting, 'Red Speedo' tries to tackle so much, the plot becomes convoluted."
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Front Mezz Junkies
March 4th, 2016

"Lileana Blain-Cruz directs this piece with some guts and a lot of testosterone...Hnath gives us a few dazzling and fast-paced scenes in this 80-minute debate on ethical challenges in the competitive world of swimming. And all four actors handle their roles with amazing sincerity and emotional truthiness...The play does falter as it moves along towards the ending, losing its momentum and speed...Overall though, it’s a good solid stroke of work, and worth the visit."
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T
March 3rd, 2016

"The wonderful grit of 'Red Speedo' results from the playwright’s ability to develop rounded characters with intriguing conflicts that drive 80 minutes of multilayered plots with enough twist and turns to keep the audience on their toes and on the edge of their seats throughout...Under Lileana Blain-Cruz’ animated and resolute direction, the ensemble cast maintains a rigorous and energetic pace right up until the surprising, shocking, and somewhat disturbing ending."
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C
March 3rd, 2016

"There’s definitely truth in advertising where 'Red Speedo,' Lucas Hnath’s fascinating play, is concerned. The skimpy swimsuit is the only attire worn by would-be Olympic swimmer Ray throughout this taut 90-minute work...Hnath is a master of creating well-crafted characters who turn out to be far more complex (and unpleasant) than they initially seem...You may well be looking at swimming competitions in a different light after seeing 'Red Speedo.'"
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Theatre's Leiter Side
March 10th, 2016

"Like each of Mr. Hnath’s previous plays seen in New York, ‘Red Speedo’ is both thematically and theatrically absorbing. It raises ethical questions of the 'what price glory?' type related to how and why athletes use performance-enhancing drugs...It uses these questions, though, more as melodramatic levers than for substantive moral debates...Still, its dramatic waters are fine and you should definitely consider diving in."
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The Guardian (UK)
March 4th, 2016

"Hnath deploys these gifts ably in 'Red Speedo,' a confident and sometimes cunning piece about sports doping...Easily the most topical work he has produced and perhaps the most accessible...Under Blain-Cruz’s direction, there is real fervor to these battles, even as a few of the twists are predictable and an emphasis on the characters’ venality somewhat relentless...The actors have found the rhythm of the lines, if not always the way to make them sound natural. Still, they do adroit work."
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B
February 27th, 2016

"This new play by Hnath addresses several issues that arise from our obsession with competitive sports...Many plots and counterplots collide. Unfortunately the play sheds far more heat than light. The lack of a sympathetic character is not necessarily fatal to my interest in a play, but it certainly doesn’t help that there is no one to root for here...Director Blain-Cruz does her best with an unsatisfactory ending."
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The Huffington Post
March 3rd, 2016

"This is brisk, bracing and brutal drama; human, funny and so intense that the weak-hearted might need to shield their eyes...'Red Speedo' seems to be something like a two-hour play, except the actors hurdle their way through in eighty minutes. Explosive...Director Lileana Blain-Cruz makes a strong impression. She does an altogether stunning job...Hopefully 'Red Speedo' will extend so that more theatergoers have the opportunity to meet this important new playwright."
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Cultural Weekly
March 16th, 2016

"Hnath’s script and Lileana Blain-Cruz’s direction are as lean and muscular as the bare torso displayed by Alex Breaux who gives a deceptively complex rendition of Ray, balancing the athlete’s apparent guilelessness with a cunning and aggression as ruthless as his sibling’s. When the two clash in an ugly climactic fist fight (staged with gut-wrenching detail by Thomas Schall), this depth charge of a play hits you where it counts."
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The Huffington Post
March 7th, 2016

"'Red Speedo' is the latest addition to the increasingly substantial body of work by playwright Lucas Hnath...Hnath doesn't paint villains and heroes or delight in showing everyone morally compromised. He shows everyone as human and complicated...'Red Speedo' doesn't quite get the gold...It's not completely at home in the world that's depicted...All the technical elements overseen by director Lileana Blain-Cruz are first rate. And the cast is exceptional."
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NY Theatre Guide
March 8th, 2016

"'Red Speedo' is a pretty compelling look at America’s malfunctioning moral compass...Lileana Blain-Cruz directs a lot of scenes with super fast back-and-forth that artificially amps up the pace. That’s fine when the dialog is throwaway, but I felt some relevant information was passing me by...I enjoyed 'Red Speedo', but it would have been nice to walk away with something more uplifting than 'people are shallow, present-day values are corrupt, and athletes are cheats.’"
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Act Three - The Reviews
March 10th, 2016

"After a tremendously impactful showing last fall with 'The Christians,' Lucas Hnath brings another of his works to the stage with less than impressive results...He has imbued this play from cover to cover with staccato, interrupted dialogue between two characters...On paper it likely looks like a frantic, energetic, heightened dialogue. On stage, it merely appeared like a machine gun misfiring."
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O
March 4th, 2016

"A provocative new play by Lucas Hnath which has been swimming upstream since 2013 in various stages of development. It still needs work...Under the unimpressive direction of Lileana Blain-Cruz the play jerks along...Sometimes the dialogue is so rapid fire one tunes out. It is only when they slow down and connect with each other that we begin to care both for Ray and Peter (who gives the best performance of the evening)."
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Off Off Online
March 8th, 2016

"Director Blain-Cruz keeps Hnath’s script moving quickly, though the snappy, rapid-fire dialogue sometimes seems forced...The script really soars when each character has a longer chance to speak—granting the audience a look inside their psyches...Hnath’s writing leaves no clear protagonist and offers no ethical calls throughout the production. Rather, he leaves the audience to ponder that all-too-gray area between right and wrong, good and bad."
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