On the back of the program for Village Players of Hatboro’s summer show, SHE KILLS MONSTERS, it reads: “…Welcome back to what will hopefully be an annual opportunity for us to present fantastic plays that are a little…different than the norm.”
With SHE KILLS MONSTERS, Village Players has accomplished exactly that. Written by Qui Nguyen, this comedic play focuses on Agnes Evans (Jenny Sullens), the bereaved sister of Tilly (Mandy Schmidt), and her quest to better understand the sibling she lost too soon. Her means of discovery: Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook. Enlisting the help of Tilly’s Dungeon Master, Chuck (Tim Schumann), Agnes plays through the game begun by Tilly in an effort to connect – albeit too late – with the sister she felt she barely knew.
For the uninitiated, Dungeons & Dragons is a role-playing game in which a Dungeon Master leads players through mythical quests. Players assume characters – sometimes endowing them with skills and powers they already have, and sometimes with abilities they wish they had. As the Dungeon Master rolls an eight-sided die, players are taken on a virtual journey in which powers are bestowed or relinquished, battles are fought, won and lost, and players find the ways and means to achieve their quest. The parallels between Tilly’s fantasy game and the realities of her short life are made clear as the play moves forward.
SHE KILLS MONSTERS is an intricate production, which calls for its actors to swing between reality and fantasy. Director Gina Lutz, aided by Assistant Director Anthony Cipollo, has assembled a capable and entertaining cast. Sullens and Schmidt are believable in and committed to their sisterly relationship, and Schumann makes a funny (if somewhat lascivious) Dungeon Master. They are complemented by Keith Maliszewski as Agnes’s boyfriend, Miles, and her best friend and co-worker, Vera (a very funny Tara Hipple), both of whom are represented primarily in Agnes’s real world. Agnes is aided in her quest by Tilly’s friends and not-quite-friends, seen primarily as characters in her D&D game: Lilith (Natalie Bonucci), Kaliope (Jen Newby) and Orcus (Rick DiDonato). Particularly enjoyable was Joshua Smith as Steve, the quintessential “geek” and ardent Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast. Featured roles include a pair of bloodthirsty succubi played by Kristen Havel and Ashley Lora-Lee, and Angie Schlauch as a “happy but not nice” faerie. The monsters are portrayed by Charles Alutius, Ryan Leddy, Carol Leister, Tim Odom and Felicity Young.
Please note: the show features coarse language and adult situations, and is not recommended for young children. But for adults, and especially for fans of Dungeons & Dragons and role-playing games, SHE KILLS MONSTERS is imaginative, entertaining and thoughtful ode to family and friendship.
SHE KILLS MONSTERS
by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Gina Lutz
August 1 – August 9, 2014
The Village Players of Hatboro
401 Jefferson Avenue
Hatboro, PA 19040