She Kills Monsters
Monsters, demons, “Dungeons & Dragons”, and tragedy smash together in this irreverent comedy recently produced by Watsonville High School. Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters” is one of my favorite play reads from 2013 and I’ve seen it performed locally to hilarious results in 2015. But, while I’d been aware that Nguyen had adapted a script for a “teen” production, I was curious to see how several of the story elements would change. Agnes the Ass-hatted is now a teenage girl whose boyfriend is on the football team, her best friend works in the gap, but she is still trying to cope with the loss of her younger sister. And that loss stings in the opening moments of the play and lead her to seek solace in her sister’s homespun gaming module, a game that Agnes will need Chuck Biggs (hilariously presented by Bowen Hayes) to run.
As Agnes (stoically played by Alexandra Rocha) attempts to connect with the memory of sister, the module reveals startling truths that reveal a sister that Agnes didn’t really know. It reveals painful moments, glorious moments, and depth to the socially awkward Tilly that Agnes had never seen before. Tilly’s energy (Ezra Soto) is endearing and her joys and pains play out with steady professionalism. The play utilizes the “game” as a mechanic to tell the story with plenty of stage combat, references to geek culture, and tackles issues of loss, teen angst, bullying, gender roles, sexuality, and the nature of peoples’ relationships with one another.
The young cast is enthusiastic and tackles the material that many casts would find challenging. Everyone takes advantage of their moment on stage to present their characters and revel in the script and story that they are telling. There are some marked differences between the adult and teen versions of the script, as much of the profanity is lost and a few of the “adult” issues are replaced with more teen-centric subjects. But many of the controversial subjects remain intact. And that’s a good thing, because this is a truly wonderful play.
7.5 out of 5.