Tech’s Backdoor Playhouse spring production, “She Kills Monsters,” has demons, Beastie Boys and, most importantly, magic. Set in 1995 Ohio, the play is the story of Agnes and her attempt to connect with her recently deceased sister Tilly through a game of Dungeons and Dragons.
The play begins with Tilly’s (Haley Smith) death and Agnes’ (Mary Richardson) adjustment to life without her sister. When Agnes discovers Tilly’s adventure book, she enlists the help of Chuck to help guide her through the fantasy world. Chuck, played by Josh Rapp in a fantastic performance, is a stereotypical geek complete with trap pants and a green beard who is constantly making innuendos about the game and its female players.
Richardson and Smith display their acting prowess as sisters that are a decade apart in age and even further apart in interests. Their exchanges on stage were genuine to the point that I forgot they were acting and not talking about their actual lives.
Toward the end of the play, Tilly asks Agnes, “Isn’t that all life is? Just a collection of stories?”
The lighting and costumes are just as enjoyable as the acting. Though the set is all white, the use of smoke machines, flashing lights and even some pyrotechnics make the set feel exciting. Monsters range from a gelatinous cube to imps to the final conflict with the five headed dragon, Tiamat. The costumes are typical fantasy fan boy fashion with short shorts and corsets worn by elves and succubi. Richard’s portrayal of Agnes is more appropriate for a 90s era 28-year-old simply wearing cardigans and oversized shirts over leggings. Fans are encouraged to come to a special performance Saturday April 10, at 10 p.m., dressed in their favorite fantasy apparel.
While “She Kills Monsters” has heart, it really excels as comedic homage to some of the absurdities that take place within the realm of Dungeons and Dragons. Full of scantily clad women, boss battles and greatest hits of 90s music, “She Kills Monsters” is a fun romp through a fantasy world that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of class, level or alignment.
“She Kills Monsters” opened April 3 and will run until Saturday, April 12.