Fringe Shorts: She, So Beloved

Andre Francisco admires Emily Gunyou’s performance in “She, So Beloved,” at the Rarig Center at the U of M. You can see it Friday, 8/11, at 5:30 PM; and Saturday, 8/12, at 10:00 PM.


Emily Gunyou’s performance of She, So Beloved is beautifully intimate–in space, performance, and content.

The performance centers on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice while weaving other vague but emotional stories of betrayal, departure, and loss together. Gunyou takes a familiar myth and makes us take a closer look. Eurydice is betrayed by her love and sent to hell with hardly a shred of protest. So Gunyou protests for her.

Gunyou explores the story though song, sound, and projection, but her acting remains her primary means. She does a wonderful job of embodying the switching characters, even the subtle shift between two representations of the same person. Each character is honest and full, and Gunyou fills the room with their sadness and betrayal.

The best moments of the show come with the nervous and almost giddy explanation of the Eurydice story told in first and third person simultaneously. Using a projector right out of high school, Gunyou explains the myth for those who missed Mythology 101. The performance invokes images of a 12-year-old telling a well-thought-out story to her parents. Gunyou presents it comically, yet she is able to seamlessly shift to the tragedy of the betrayal. This forces the audience to acknowledge what we have been ignoring about this myth all along.

The vagueness of the many stories sometimes causes the performance to slow and become diffuse, but watching Gunyou act them with total commitment makes the secondary stories worthwhile.

Gunyou gives a 30-minute performance that is beautiful and tautly intense. Down to her crumpled toes she lives each of the many characters and makes an old story new.

The arena space at the University of Minnesota Rarig Center is perfect for this play and she uses it well. No one is more than 20 feet from the center of the stage and the energy is pressing against the walls. But Emily Gunyou’s performance could have filled the room if everyone was 100 feet away.