The pressure-cooker environment of professional sport provides the platform for a taut, timely and provocative meditation on an economic system which promises wildly abundant rewards which are only ever delivered to a chosen few.

When a rising swimming star uses banned substances to fuel his Olympic dream a ruthless battle erupts within a three-faced combat zone inhabited by the swimmer's manager, sports therapist and coach.

American playwright Lucas Hnath places the art of the deal at the heart of the drama with four strongly drawn characters advancing their own interests through brutal power-plays, manipulative bargaining and hard-nosed negotiations.

The evocative dialogue presents professional sport as a microcosm of contemporary culture and cleverly suggests the calculated pursuit of self-interest can work so long as players ignore trivial things like love, loyalty and justice.


The verbal and physical duelling is sharply choreographed by director Benjamin Henson who sets a brisk pace for the show's 90 minutes.

John Parker's design creates an operatic setting that is expressively enhanced with Simon Barker's stylish video projections and Eden Mulholland's explosive sound effects.

The four-person cast bounce off each other in a robust series of verbal punch-ups and they all manage to elicit a measure of sympathy for their relentlessly ambitious characters.

Ryan Carter impressively displays the lean muscular physique of a swimmer and imbues his character with a quizzical innocence that recalls Forrest Gump.

Chelsie Preston Crayford has an engaging presence made more alluring by her willingness to walk away from the game and Scott Wills embodies the nuggety pride of an authoritarian coach.

Wesley Dowdell captures the badgering and at times obsequious verbosity of a trial lawyer and brings a desperate animalistic quality to the play's intensely physical climax.