BWW Review: SHE KILLS MONSTERS Slays the Game
This past weekend, She Kills Monsters had a short run at Clay High School. Delving into the role-playing world of Dungeons & Dragons, the show follows a young woman's quest to better understand her deceased younger sister, taking place both in real-time and the imaginary world of New Landia.
The story is a poignant one, delicately balancing on the edge of being hilarious while also dealing with deeper, heart-wrenching themes. The profound themes of death, family, love, and being LGBT, while coated in superb comedy, shine through masterfully, not just because of the writing from playwright Qui Nguyen, but because of productions ability to expertly execute all tones of the play, be it light or dark.
To keep it simple, the show was breathtaking. From the performances from the cast all the way to the set and costume design, the production was a non-stop masterpiece of theatre. Directed by Meghan Beard, She Kills Monsters was a perfect pick for the high school. The play is entertaining and can accommodate the larger cast sizes Clay is known for, while still having a few roles that allow for some select students to be stars. Since the play is also about a young high schooler, the topics mirror what a lot of young students go through - a perfect pick for this age group to perform and watch. This play has literally anything an audience member could want: a cool soundtrack, dorky dance sequences, thrilling fight scenes, romance, and much more.
The fantasy world of New Landia and its characters were perfectly rendered, and was one of the coolest aspects of the production. The costumes, designed by Kathryn Hein and Zoe Sharrock, left no detail spared and were appropriately geeky but also chic and interesting. Designed by Meghan Beard, the set was simple but impactful, with gray marble-like boxes and columns spread around the stage. The simplicity allowed for more of the grandeur facets of the show, like the costumes and lights, to take center stage. While there were some flubs, mistakes, and occasional poor choices, they were eclipsed by the other amazing aspects of the show.
Almost all the actors showed high skill in the portrayals of their characters. Each actor showed naturalness, subtly, and range, even if their characters were written as larger than life, over the top, or made brief appearances. Besides being a well-crafted production, it was also a well-acted play. No actor was carried; each performer stood on their own. Four of them however, were terrific in bringing their characters to life.
Erin Joines played the lead character, Agnes Evans. Joines strength was the climatic emotional moments, as she nailed the emotional complexities of an older sister wrought with guilt and regret, who is teetering on the edge of a breakdown. Joines was captivating in her realism in Agnes' most vulnerable moments.
Carly Colvin played Tilly Evans, the younger deceased sister of Agnes, and the reason for her adventure in New Landia. Colvin embodied the simultaneous dorkiness and fierceness of Tilly. She achieved the intricate notes of a character who is brave and formidable in one world, but not the other. Portraying a young, awkward, immature and vulnerable teenager in one moment, and being the leader of fierce group of warriors the next, is no small feat.
Cristian Marquez played Dungeon Master, Chuck Biggs. Marquez was charismatic and humorous, and knew exactly how to cut tense scenes with great comedic timing. However, Marquez also nailed the delicate and compassionate side of his character, creating a well-rounded persona. The character Chuck Biggs was obviously an audience favorite, and that's thanks to Marquez.
Kyrrah White played Vera Martin, the high school therapist and best friend to Agnes. The character Vera Martin was another audience favorite, with White always garnering thunderous laughter and applause for her spot-on performance of the pessimistic and ill-mannered character. Like Marquez, White created a fully developed character that left a lasting impression.
A dramatic comedy done extremely well, She Kills Monsters should go down as one of the best shows done at Clay High School. With fantastic production quality and elite performances from the cast, the audience could want for nothing. The emotional undertones of the show, paired with the hilarity of the characters and situations, packed a theatrical punch. In the words of modern-day nerdiness, "I'm not crying, you're crying."
Photo Credit: Jon Gilchrist