It is very easy to see why this show is a favorite of high schools and colleges. It takes a tragic scenario — the death of parents and a younger sibling — and shows that there is still joy in life. Written in the early 2000s and debuting in 2011, Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters” is a reassuring fantasy that it’s never to late to reach out and make amends or connections. It’s a balm of sorts.
‘She Kills Monsters’ has a charm and a bittersweet innocence in its delivery that is nicely captured by Silver Spring Stage.
Agnes (Emma Wesslund) is a teacher in her mid-twenties who is still coming to terms with the deaths of her immediate family. While clearing out her sister’s room, she finds a Dungeon & Dragons scenario that her sister created. Desperate to assuage her guilt over her lack of a close relationship with Tilly (Kit Krull), she takes it to a friend of her sister’s and gets a crash course in D&D.
Somehow, by playing D&D, she gets to interact with her sister again — and with her sister’s posse: Lilith (Maya Rizkala), Kaliope (Erica Dilworth), Vera (Mallory Shear), Orcus (Noah Haren), and Gabbi (Sarah Luckadoo) and Tina (Gabrielle Minor), who shine in this production as evil cheerleader succubi. Agnes’ boyfriend of several years, Miles (Will MacLeod) shows up periodically to jump to conclusions about what Agnes is doing with Chuck ( Ben Eggleston), the dungeon master. Rounding out the group is Vera (Mallory Shear), Agnes’ best friend and a counselor at the school where they both work, and Steve (Christian Preziosi), a friend of Tilly’s.
During the course of playing out her sister’s creation, Agnes comes to know her sister some more, and also to grieve for what she missed by not really knowing her. In the magical dream world of D&D, Tilly has the chance to get a few things off her chest as well.
I have to say that I still have no clue how D&D is played, but the cast, nearly all of whom double as IRL people and characters in the game, do a very competent job of taking what are easily identifiable “types” and giving them some depth and nuance.
Director Julia Rabson keeps the action moving and mines all the comedic moments for all they’re worth. Properties designer McKenna G. Kelly and costumer designer Stephenie Yee have come up with the perfect kitschy costumes and props (those swords are a hoot) that embody the outsized grandeur of role playing and the reality of teenagers putting heroic costumes together. Just like the youthfulness of Tilly and her friends, they have one foot in adulthood, and a toehold in childhood.
One of the best parts of this production is that it allows you to see all the characters grow up a little more, and build a little more resilience. Using the deus ex machina of the online game to broach some some difficult realities, “She Kills Monsters” has a charm and a bittersweet innocence in its delivery that is nicely captured by Silver Spring Stage.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes without intermission.
Show Advisory: Suitable for 12 and up.
“She Kills Monsters” runs through July 31, 2021. This production is being pre-recorded and presented virtually through on-demand streaming by Silver Spring Stage, Silver Spring, MD. For more information, please click here.