Drexel Players’ performance of “She Kills Monsters” opens this weekend at the Black Box Theater. As a whole, it is a very enjoyable show that has a lot of comedy with some great emotional themes. It isn’t flawless, but what little flaws it has are very forgivable.
The basic premise of the show is that a woman in her twenties, Agnes, tries to connect with her recently-deceased teenage sister, Tilly, by playing a Dungeons and Dragons game that Tilly had intended to be Dungeon Master for. There are a number of characters, both inside and outside the game, that join Agnes in her quest to posthumously understand her sister.
The show is based largely around the game Dungeons and Dragons. As someone who is only in the middle of playing my first DnD campaign, I was able to follow everything and understand nearly all of the game references. It is likely that those who are unfamiliar with the game will not get the full experience, but the show definitely caters to non-players by making its hero a “nube” who is trying the game for the first time and has no true interest in the game itself.
I think it is safe to say that the play is very true to the spirit of the game. It owns up to and embraces the nerdiness of the game, but also delves into its capacity for emotional catharsis and takes advantage of a few opportunities to draw parallels between the events of the game and the problems in both Agnes and Tilly’s lives.
The writing of the show is mostly good. There are a few scattered moments that don’t work well, and there are a couple of jokes that don’t land, but they do very little to detract from the experience. The show is set in 1995, which has its pros and cons in terms of pop culture references. There are several moments that make good use of 90’s music that most people are familiar with. However, there are a few references that don’t carry over that well, especially for an audience that is a little young to have 90’s nostalgia. There were a couple scenes and elements of high school life and culture that felt somewhat dated. However, none of these things are deal breakers in the slightest.
The production itself is pretty much spot on. The actors all draw laughs from the audience, but are also able to come across as fully fleshed out characters and give some very honest performances in the show’s more emotional moments. The scenes that take place within the game are done very well in terms of costuming and choreography. I never expect a lot from onstage action scenes, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good the scenes where the players had to fight monsters were.
Overall, I would highly recommend going to see this. If you are unashamed to call yourself a nerd of anything, you will love this, and if you enjoy playing DnD, I probably don’t even have to tell you to go see this. For non-nerds, it is still well worth seeing for a fun, exciting comedy with a lot of heart.