Review: SHE KILLS MONSTERS at TAFE-Theatre Arts For Everyone

Audiences have four more chances to catch this heartwarming and funny show

By: Jul. 30, 2022
Review: SHE KILLS MONSTERS at TAFE-Theatre Arts For Everyone

The 2011 play She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen tells the story of Agnes Evans. Agnes is described as an exceedingly average woman living a normal life until her entire family is killed in a car accident. In the process of dealing with her loss, Agnes comes across a Dungeons and Dragons module that was written by her sister Tilly. As she delves into the game as a way to get to know her sister and reconcile the emotions surrounding her death, Agnes learns a great deal about both her sister and herself. This show explores ways in which people seek to discover who they are while navigating a world that often does not allow people to be fully themselves. She Kills Monsters also illuminates the ways in which our stories intersect with one another. Audiences can join in this humorous and dramatic story for four more performances at TAFE (Theatre Arts for Everyone) in York, PA.

Under the direction of Quinton Laughman, the cast and crew put together a production that is funny and heartwarming, evoking laughter and tears from the audience. Narrator Laney Poulin (who also plays Farrah the Faerie and Evil Tina) introduces us to the major players. Poulin starts the show off just right with great energy and good enunciation (tricky in the performance space, which has odd acoustics). As the play progresses, we meet a cast of characters who exist in Agnes and Tilly's real world as well as in the D & D game world.

Lucia Marteny, as Evil Gabbi, joins Poulin (as Evil Tina) in their tormenting of Tilly and Agnes in the game and the real world. Marteny and Poulin have perfected their delightfully evil smiles and laughs as well as their synchronous movements. Samuel Roberts pops in and out of both the game world and the real world as Steve, a hapless teen who dies over and over again in the game. One of the funniest real world scenes in the show features Roberts (Steve) with Kayla Bailey (Vera) and Manny Tellado (Miles) in which Steve comes in looking for advice on quitting marching band. Kayla Bailey and Manny Tellado mostly exist in the real world as Agnes's friend and school counselor Vera and Agnes's boyfriend Miles. It was unfortunately sometimes difficult to hear all of Bailey's lines, but her interactions with Agnes, Miles, and the students are humorous and demonstrate good comedic timing. Tellado portrays Miles with an endearing earnestness. His scenes with Bailey's Vera and Kimahri Garcia as Chuck Biggs are hilarious, and his fight scene with Agnes (played by Sydney Kessler-Appell) is so exciting that it elicits a spontaneous round of applause.

Zo Szilagyi, Kayla Gorman, and Matt Bahn take on the roles of Lilith/Lilly, Kaliope/Kelly, and Orcus/Ronnie, who make up Tilly's D & D party. Szilagyi, Gorman, and Bahn connect well together on stage, drawing the audience into the action. Szilagyi's attitude is perfect for the role of Demon Queen Lilith, while Gorman's gracefulness suits the Dark Elf Kaliope. Bahn provides wonderful comedic relief as the TV-obsessed demon overlord Orcus, using his facial expressions and animated voice to heighten the humor of each scene.

Kimahri Garcia portrays Chuck Biggs, one of Tilly's real life friends who helps Agnes through the D & D module as the Dungeon Master. Garcia is one of the most dynamic actors on the stage, handling the comedy of the character as well as the emotional parts of the play with great finesse. This reviewer looks forward to seeing Garcia in future productions. One of the most magical parts of this production is the interaction between Garcia's Chuck and Sydney Kessler-Appell as Agnes. Kessler-Appell is extremely convincing in her roles as Agnes Evans. It is exciting to watch the way in which Kessler-Appell handles Agnes's emotional transformation throughout the course of the show. Skylar Newman rounds out the cast as Tilly Evans, Agnes's dead sister and creator of New Landia and the D & D module. Newman's stage presence is phenomenal, and she does a great job at portraying the confidence of Tilly in the game and the complicated emotions that Tilly experienced in real life that led to the creation of her module.

While the space was at times difficult due to the acoustics and orientation of the stage and audience, the cast and production team at TAFE put together an engaging performance of She Kills Monsters. The fight choreography is fantastic, as are the costumes, transporting the audience into the story. Audiences have four more chances to catch this heartwarming and funny show. For more information and to order tickets, please visit®id=194&

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