Stop by the Robert E. Will Theatre this weekend, where you’ll find five-headed dragons, supermodel elves, dominatrix demons, evil cheerleaders, epic fights and dance battles. These all make up the design spectacle that is “She Kills Monsters,” which opened on Nov. 14.
Set in 1995 Ohio, audiences follow the story of Agnes Evans, portrayed by Erin McGowan. She attempts to learn more about her younger sister Tilly two years following her tragic death by playing through a D&D quest Tilly created before she died. Tilly, portrayed by Shannon Donnelly, appears in the quest as the protagonist, along with her party members Lilith and Kaliope, a demon and an elf.
The show’s amazing puppetry is evident from the beginning, with narration by Olivia Morrow setting the stage for the rest of the one-act play while the characters’ backstory is acted out behind a curtain. Puppets appear throughout as many different bad guys in Tilly’s D&D world.
Much of the play takes place in that same world, with Agnes attempting to help Tilly’s character, Tillius the Paladin, reclaim her soul. She is guided by Chuck, played by Alexander Linn, a friend of Tilly’s and the Dungeon Master, or the person who runs the game. As time goes on, Agnes gets sucked deeper and deeper into the fantasy world that she has a hard time separating the characters from reality, and her lost sister from Tillius the Paladin.
There are plenty of heartbreaking moments as Agnes tries to form new memories through the quest with the geeky little sister she never bothered to get to know when she was alive. The audience, along with Agnes, learned to cherish the time you have with those in your lives, because you never know how limited it may be. Unfortunately, Agnes realizes too late and tries to cope with that painful reminder of the person she would never get the chance to know as an adult.
With all of these heavy moments and themes comes great comedic relief through multiple characters. There’s constant unintended innuendos made by Chuck about D&D and the fact that he is Agnes’s Dungeon Master. Agnes’s best friend is a guidance counselor at the high school she also works at, and makes it very clear that she has no time for the problems of her students. Orcus, a lazy demon of the Underworld who is more interested in television and cheese whizz than defending his treasure, tags along to help on the quest, providing many laughs.
There are even multiple dance battles. The first is against a sassy, badass fairy named Farrah who fights with ease to the 1991 jam, “Get Ready For This.” Later on, the party must fight two evil homophobic cheerleaders, aptly named Evil Gabbi and Evil Tina by Tilly, to C+C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now.”
“She Kills Monsters” is a hilarious, visually stunning, shocking and surprisingly heartbreaking look at the journey of two sisters through D&D
Performances will be held at Robert E. Will Theatre through Sunday Nov. 24. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Fine Arts Center’s box office for $20 for the general public or $15 for students, faculty, staff and seniors.