“Forged by the Hands of Nerds”: A ‘She Kills Monsters’ Review

For the 2016 winter play, the Glenbard West Theatre Club performed the production She Kills Monsters. Written by Quí Nguyen in October of 2012, it was critically acclaimed for its remarkable story that features blood-sucking cheerleaders, filthy ogres, and a group of geeks who go on a journey to defeat the final boss.

The story follows Agnes, a twenty-five year old average woman, as she discovers her younger sister’s story through the game of Dungeons and Dragons. When her sister’s unexpected death causes her world to come crashing down, Agnes is forced to deal with her own insecurities and regrets and learn how to overcome them.

In the beginning of the story, Agnes meets Chuck, a dorky high schooler who happens to know a lot about the game that means the world to her younger sister. As the Dungeon Master, Chuck brings Tilly’s (Agnes’ sister) story to life by narrating the game that she created herself. While at first hesitant, as Agnes delves deeper through the thick and thin of the game, she discovers the hardships that her sister faced as a high schooler while she was still alive.

With the help of Tilly’s old gang, comprised of a demon princess, Lilith, as well as a warrior elf, Kaliope, and a demon overlord named Orcus, the group embarks on a journey to recover Tilly’s lost soul from the final boss.

While journeying on this quest, Agnes deals with the responsibilities and problems of being an adult, including being hesitant on whether or not she should move in with her boyfriend Miles and coping with teaching a class that her sister would be in if she were alive.

With the incorporation of a repertoire of tech, scenery, props, and wardrobe, She Kills Monsters was able to successfully portray “a world of geekery.” Before it was successful, though, it was challenging. One of the most challenging aspects was using the lighting and sound to take the audience to another world and captivating them for every second of the play.

Upon reading the play, Mrs. Jolanie Orlin, a Glenbard North speech teacher who directed She Kills Monsters, believed the play had “very few stage directions [which] didn’t really give [her] much to work on.” However, this gave Mrs. Orlin the opportunity to let her creativity flow and transform the play into what the audience was able to experience.

When finding actors to portray the roles of the characters, she “looked for honesty”and always asked performers “to be themselves.” She also managed to perfectly match up actors to the character’s personalities.

Agnes, the protagonist of the story, can be described as “an average girl, with an average life, and average parents.” Sophomore Lizzie Mowry, the actor who portrays Agnes, mentions that one of the biggest challenges for her “was playing someone older than [her].” Lizzie, when asked to give a description of her character, revealed that Agnes “is someone who needs improvement and is trying.”

Tilly, Agnes’s younger sister, was depicted by sophomore Elinore Tolman. Before the accident, Tilly was a young girl who was full of life and a little…well, a lot, geeky. When Agnes gets to be with Tilly through her DnD game, Tilly shows her elder sister who she really is and everything about her that her sister didn’t know about when she was alive. While interviewing Elinore, she revealed that “gaining confidence was a struggle,” but once she grasped onto her character, she “fe[lt]  so energetic” which allowed her to display such a full-of-life character onstage.

Before she even begins to delve into the geeky world that is Dungeons and Dragons, Agnes must consult the “ladies man” high schooler, Chuck, who proclaims that he is the “DM Biggs.” Through Chuck, who acts as the dungeon master, Agnes is able to learn about her sister, something she never even considered while she was on this earth. Played by sophomore Jack Slevin, whose most difficult time with the play was “diction, for sure,” Chuck “leads the game” as he navigates Agnes through her sister’s world.

Miles, played by senior Asher Riley, is Agnes’ sweet, loving, “pretty average” long-term boyfriend. Throughout the storyline he is depicted as “trying to help Agnes get through these barriers that she’s putting up” to show her that he “love[s] her” and “want[s] to be with her,” Riley said.  He noted that “being your character helps,” because it makes the tricky parts like “finding the right thing to do, the certain action to make, and going into the next line” much easier.

Once Agnes journeys into the world of Dungeons and Dragons, she and her sister, along with her sister’s gang, must travel to the underworld in order to enlist the help of “very lazy, slobbish, not put together” demon overlord, Orcus, who was depicted by senior Griffin McDonnell, to help get back her lost soul from the final boss. What made it easy for Griffin to play the part of Orcus was that they connected over the fact that they both like “being lazy in general,” McDonnell said.

Overall, She Kills Monsters displayed a world of gaming and brought it to life, captivating the audience during the entire play.. By incorporating many real-life issues into the play, many of those within the audience related to the characters, which made it so much more enjoyable to everyone who watched it.

Bruce Medic Photography
Bruce Medic Photography