Duong Trieu Nguyen’s one man show based on his own personal experiences of online dating as a queer Asian man, creates an intimate, shared and safe space of confession and catharsis. It is a multimedia monologue that serves as therapy for the performer, while opening up a much needed dialogue regarding the racism in online dating in the gay community.  

Nguyen’s brave honesty and vulnerability drive the performance from the very first moment, as he shockingly appears naked on stage, continuing to address the audience clad in nothing but a towel. This conveys how he will reveal the naked truth throughout the show – literally, as he is naked both physically and emotionally on the stage.

Projections are used to visualise the disheartening and discriminatory messages he would receive on Grindr. The show exposes how demoralising online dating can be, increasing isolation and loneliness through its dehumanising commodification of people as well as rampant racism. For example: “no femme, no fat, no Asian” is a common phrase on Grindr, highlighting how prejudice is allowed to thrive on dating apps under the guise of sexual preference or fetish. 

However, B.A.R.E. is still a work-in-progress. Nguyen’s dialogue lacks projection and confidence, perhaps a result of the show’s sensitive nature.

After the performance, an enlightening and emotional Q&A allowed the audience to eagerly take part in the dialogue with which he opened the show. Audience members confessed they related to the show’s material, giving the performance an inclusive and communal feel.

B.A.R.E. is an important representation of a queer Asian man’s experience. Theatre Deli, ever true to its commitment to championing new work and supporting artists, provided Nguyen with a platform to share his experiences.

3/5 stars.

Featured image: Theatre Deli

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