‘She Kills Monsters’ is a dark comedy must-see

Emily Neria

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With daring heroes, crazy monsters and heavy emotional beats, “She Kills Monsters” appeals to those young and old, nerds and theater-goers alike.

Written by Qui Nguyen in 2011, the play follows a 24-year-old school teacher named Agnes (Zoe Stamos) who plays her deceased younger sister’s “Dungeons & Dragons” campaign to try to get a sense of who her sister really was beneath her nerdy traits. Her younger sister Tilly (Sydney Baichtal) leads her through the adventure as a non-playable character.

With its production, Chico State’s Department of Music and Theatre made the most of a messy but touching script.

The highlight of the show was definitely the cast. Leif Bramer who played Chuck, a high school student who offers to be Agnes’s Dungeon Master lit up the stage with his earnest enthusiasm and accidental innuendos. Meanwhile, Stamos and Baichtal had great sisterly chemistry. Their scenes together felt like the most down-to-earth of the whole production and tackled some heavy themes about loss and what it is to really know a person.

Aside from the actresses and actors, the show also attempted some pretty elaborate special effects.

Some of the stunts pulled didn’t quite hit home. The stage fighting which happened often throughout the show, was laughable even when it wasn’t supposed to be. Many victorious battle poses were met with an uncertain spattering of applause.

However, the show really nailed other effects.

A running gag was that when people died gruesome deaths, their ‘body parts’ would fly everywhere. This involved an evil fairy exploding into guts and bone, a mage getting his spine pulled out and a giant gelatinous blob bleaching out the bones of one of its victims. Fortunately this was always done for laughs, as the effect was hilarious.

Even better was the climactic battle scene, when Agnes faces off against a five-headed dragon. The dragon was depicted with an actor holding up each of its heads and operating its jaws. The heads slithered out of a set of double doors on the set creating the illusion that the dragon’s necks were craning through the doorway to snap at Agnes. The result was very convincing and fun to watch.

“She Kills Monsters” seems to have discovered a strange niche at Chico State. Between the mature themes and kick-ass adventure of the play, there’s something for everyone in this production.

Emily Neria can be reached at [email protected]

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