“She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen
Reviewing a play that you read rather than one you actually see is a new challenge for me. I’ve never really tried to do this before, but this title just sort of screamed out to me and the synopsis pretty much guaranteed my interest from the get-go. Monsters, demons, Dungenons & Dragons, and a woman attempting to come to terms with the loss of her teenage sister kind of appealed to a number of my senses, so I put in an order with the gift-certificate and sat down to the material. I laughed very hard, felt a few kicks to the gut, and generally found this play to be everything I would look for in my entertainment.
Tilly is a socially awkward teenage girl who, along with her parents, recently died in a car accident. This leave her schoolteacher sister, Agnes, alone to griever over her losses. While cleaning out her sisters room, the woman comes across a “Dungeons and Dragons” module written by her sister, an adventure written specifically for a very small group of beginners in a world created by Tilly. Agnes recruits help from a local teen gamer (Chuck) to explore her sisters’ story in an attempt to connect with the geeky teen she barely knew. She gets more than she bargained for as she fights with wise-cracking slacker demons, evil cheerleader succubi, doppelgangers, and a five headed dragon in her quest to free her sisters soul.
The play is easily accessible for those who don’t understand Dungeons & Dragons, utilizing the game itself as a mechanic to tell the story on the stage. There is plenty of stage combat, visual gags, and references to the geek culture that Agnes struggles to understand. Not all of her obstacles come in the game, either… her snobbish best friend (Vera) doesn’t entirely approve of her new hobby, her long-term boyfriend (Myles) is confused by the situation (with some very hilarious results), and she starts to come face to face with the real life inspirations to Tilly’s private world. There are definitely a few shocks in store for Agnes, some emotional upheaval, and the whole story comes to an end in an exciting and tearful climax.
“She Kills Monsters” is designed for a young cast of mid-teens to early twenties and has strong profanity, multiple dance numbers, and graphically violent stage combat. It tackles themes of loss, teen angst, sexuality, roles of gender, and the nature of relationships between people. This is definitely something I would go to see, wish I could be involved with, and enjoy.
4 out of 5.