BWW Review: Theater Schmeater's Inconsistent and Chaotic SHE KILLS MONSTERS

BWW Review: Theater Schmeater's Inconsistent and Chaotic SHE KILLS MONSTERS
Alaji Marie, Maddy Noonan, Ai Nguyen,
and Annelih Hamilton in She Kills Monsters.
Photo credit: Dave Hastings

Greetings adventurer, you and your party are approaching a multiheaded beast to which you must convey a story filled with drama, high stakes and dire consequences. You know in order to survive you need to present yourself in a certain way, so do you judiciously put forth just what you need in order to tell a focused and coherent tale thus placating/entertaining the beast or do you throw everything you've got at it and hope something appeases the monster? Well, if you're the folks at Theater Schmeater you do the latter as was evident with the forced, unfocused, and just plain loud production of "She Kills Monsters" currently playing.

Qui Nguyen's play seems to be a lovely tale of loss and longing as we meet Agnes (Annelih Hamilton), a young woman who's recently lost her Sister, Tilly (Ai Nguyen) in an accident. Agnes comes across Tilly's Dungeon's and Dragon's manual and decides to play out her Sister's story, with the help of DM extraordinaire Chuck (Jasmine Joshua), in an attempt to come to know her better. Along the way she encounters Tilly's magical questing group Lillith, Kaliope, and Orcus (Maddy Noonan, Alaji Marie, and Peter Sakowicz) as well as assorted monsters all of whom bear a striking resemblance to people in Tilly's real life.

As I said the play seems to be a lovely tale but director Butch Alice and the folks at Theater Schmeater have overloaded it with so much superfluous fluff that it dilutes the story. The fluff could have worked if only attention had been taken to make it work. The monsters they've created are fun and the scenic design works but the use of them doesn't. The fight sequences come across as sloppy and weak with little to no effort to tell a story of the fight, just throw chaos on stage. The chaos for each fight is amped up even more with a deafening soundtrack so loud that it's not only uncomfortable in the small space but any lines being said during the fights are unintelligible. To add into that they've thrown in video game sound effects each time a character is killed or fights or levels up. This may be my own nerdy pickiness but it's D&D not a video game. Each time it happened I was taken out of the scene like seeing an Elizabethan character on an iPhone. Wrong genre. And that's just a few of the bits of business that may have sounded like a good idea but just didn't work.

The performances don't help focus the show as their inconsistencies only add to the chaos. Hamilton is not up to the task of carrying a show such as this. Her delivery is stiff and forced and lacks timing and seems to have one speed, disdain. Which makes it difficult to see why she would choose to attempt to play this game if she has such utter contempt for it. There are some wonderful standouts however. Nguyen has some lovely moments as the lost sister. Noonan brings in some fantastic levels not only as the warrior demon in the game but as the struggling teen in the real world. Sakowicz has great presence and comedic timing making him a joy to watch. And Joshua completely commits to the uber-nerd DM character, sometimes going a bit overboard, but overall, they make for a delightful dork.

But these few stand outs only shine a spotlight on the downfalls in the rest of the show. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give Theater Schmeater's production of "She Kills Monsters" a disappointed NAH. The old adage "Less is more" is old for a reason. Sometimes more just gets in the way.

"She Kills Monsters" performs at Theater Schmeater through August 18th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.schmeater.org.

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From This Author Jay Irwin

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