She Kills Monsters
By Qui Nguyen
Directed by David Reed
Starring Whitney Abraham, Reva Stover, Kent James Collins
D&D is a sort of theater for geeks who don’t become real theater geeks. Agnes (Abraham) missed out on the family car crash; now she’s alone and looking for answers and wondering what it was her younger but deader sister Tilly (Stover) left behind. Agnes played the Cool Girl in school, hung out with the jocks, and looked down on the unpopulars and their geeky games. But Tilly left a decoder ring in the form of a large book describing a D&D world. Agnes locates enthusuastic Chuck (Collins) and they set off to play through Tilly’s game. At first Agnes is distant and skeptical, but by curtain she’s fully engaged and fighting for her 20-sided life. Now she knows her little sister’s big secret, and that D&D is more than the Awkwards dressing up on Saturday night.
There’s a minimal set packed with maximum action. Jokes are set up and killed the instant they waver. Tilly learns about recruiting and super powers and all about the whole Lawful Chaotic lifestyle. The story careens through all emotions from condescending parody to denial of reality to actually scary on-stage dragons. Abraham finds her way through this mirror world, always believable and always off center. Stover explains like her life depends on it; perhaps losing life makes it that much more important that you’re not forgotten. Collins is joyful and thrilled to be attended to a Cool (Older) Girl. This might even lead him to an actual date at some point.
Technically this show is brilliant. Director Reed never loses the energy, and there are plenty of blind alleys to get lost in. Scott Haupt did the fight coordination and while there were a few slower than expected thrusts, no one got hurt in this edge heavy epic. High hit points go to the uncredited dragon puppet team, this effect drew “oohs” and “ahhs” from this UCF student audience. “She Kills Monsters” is a gem of this season and should not be missed.