By D'Lo; Directed by Adelina Anthony
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 7.22.17
Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street
by Taylor Black on 7.18.17
D'Lo in To T or Not To T. Photo by Ryan Harper Gray.
BOTTOM LINE: D'Lo tells his story as a trans Sri Lankan artist, this time in a study of his father, in a hilarious, high-energy, and deeply relatable performance.
To T or Not To T explores connections between D’Lo’s childhood and transitions—of all kinds—into the person he is now, from his experience as a trans man, his upbringing in an immigrant household, the loss of his sister, and the love of the community he’s cultivated as an artist. As a performer, D’Lo is sharp, fun, and joyous to watch. To T or Not To T speaks deeply to D’Lo’s community of queer, immigrant, and marginalized people, but the show is filled with a humor and an abiding love that effortlessly draws in anyone.
D’lo tells the story of his family, his transition, and how his many searches for love are all intertwined. The anecdotes blend past and present, and D’Lo performs a range of characters, from close friends to old lovers to family members, woven into a web that culminates in his recent wedding. The sense of history is built into the piece, as he references previous shows performed at Dixon Place and shouts out to the history of love and solidarity in the space itself.
In past shows, D’Lo says, he’s focused on the maternal and on the women in his life, untangling the challenge of finding his masculinity in a culture with strictly defined gender roles and exploring the legacy of his sister in his life. In this performance, however, D’Lo turns to his father, anchoring the performance with impressions as D’Lo re-performs his father’s wedding toast. Throughout the piece, D’Lo unpacks his father as his hero, and finds depth and difficulty in doing so, performing the kind of full, rich character study that can only come from years of watching, admiring, and seeking constantly to understand another person.
To T or Not to T reads almost like standup comedy, and is certainly a one-man opus. D’Lo is a constant source of vibrant energy, and the performance never slows down or skips a beat, even at its quietest and most intense moments. D’Lo pulls out all the stops for the performance, incorporating props, slides, and all kinds of impressions and characters to bring this multi-layered story home. The performance occasionally falters at transitions, but the enrapturing crescendos do plenty to satisfy. Even aside from the deeply personal narrative he tells, it’s abundantly clear that D’Lo’s performance is fundamentally an extension of his person, and the show is as hilarious, authentic, and charismatic as the person performing it.
D’Lo is certainly targeting the HOT! Festival’s audience of queer performance lovers—the show opens with D’Lo asking “Where my queer people at?” in a call and response that is very warmly answered—and the themes will resonate deeply with queer, immigrant, and POC stories. D’Lo draws deep insights into how queer people “find comfort in our utility factor” and find each other in any circumstance. To T or Not To T is funny, sweet, and heartwarming, and certainly made me want to call some old friends—and go out and find some new ones.
(To T or Not To T plays at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, through July 22, 2017. The running time is 1 hour with no intermission. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30. Tickets are $22 in advance, $25 at the door, and $15 for students and seniors, and are available at dixonplace.org or by calling 866-811-4111.)
To T or Not To T is written and performed by D'Lo. Directed by Adelina Anthony. Projections are by Meena Murugesan. Sound Design is by Stephen Franco. Assistant Directed by Zohar Fuller. Stage Manager is Jacqueline Blaska, assisted by Rudy Kandavel. Technical Direction by Rob Laviere. Technical operations by Tae Braun and Aaliyah Stewart.