Fringe Review: “Love Painted Brown” a heartfelt piece on race, womanhood, and activism

REVIEW FROM OUR SPECIAL COVERAGE OF THE 2017 MONTREAL FRINGE FESTIVAL

(Photo: Carolyn Owenby)

It is quite the emotional rollercoaster ride that is Love Painted Brown, conceived, directed, and performed by Shanti Gonzales. Right from the introduction you can tell this is a well written piece; our storyteller’s poetic talent is undeniable.

Gonzales’ compelling story of being part Indian, part Mexican was beautifully portrayed through visual and verbal demonstrations. She effectively describes what it is like to have more than one cultural identity, drawing the conflicts of race “in a world painted white”. It was clear to see how she was influenced by her parents and how being “forced” into a particular culture and not having enough information about the other equally contributed towards her African-American upbringing. One might even find themselves nodding, snapping, and shouting “tru dat” throughout the performance. You could tell her effort to share her story was driven by passion and honesty.

A most notable aspect of Love Painted Brown was the creative choice and use of props. She explored the five senses and treasured the audience with the smell of traditional Indian food, the sound of soulful singing, and hand-holding; the audience was embraced in a full-body experience. One exceptionally great touch to the show was Gonzales’ use of a white cloth that was used as a blank slate. She twisted and folded it into a scarf, then into an apron, then into the ghost of a family member – minimalistic yet effective. My personal favourite was the African-American Barbie doll which triggered a sense of nostalgia and connection to her past. Every prop had a function, a purpose, and I tip my fedora towards Gonzales for having such fine attention to detail.

The turning point of the performance came as she delved into the topic of social justice. Love Painted Brown here seeks to deconstruct previously held notions of race, class, and gender, bringing the conversation of cultural appropriation to the forefront. With an emphasis on online presence, she had the audience silenced and on the edge of their seats.

Gonzales brought up several taboo topics on race and womanhood, expressing the importance of understanding cultural movements and how it affects minorities. She truly got me thinking when she described how she “was born woke”, shining a light on the reality of privilege. It was refreshing to witness someone not only discuss certain unspoken matters with fervour, but to furthermore offer concrete solutions to them (a list of ways to take action and engage in intersectional feminism was even provided in the programme booklet – simple, effective, and straight to the point).

Love Painted Brown gets you talking, whether you relate to it or not. Gonzales engages the audience, discusses relevant social issues, and even delves deep into the consequences of “Feeling Brown, Feeling Down”. The ambience set by the entire performance created a sense of community, particularly the final group song. We were all on our feet at the end, which by default gives this production a standing ovation.

Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Patricia Fitzgibbon


angrybrowngirl Productions presents “Love Painted Brown”

When: June 10 – 18, 2017
Where: Montreal Improv Espace B, 3713 Saint-Laurent, #202
Admission: $10
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)


Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival

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