By Sue Moore
Set in 1995 – which alone may be a comic treat for those who remember being teens in that decade – “She Kills Monsters” is the story of average Agnes Evans, coming to the Schoolcraft Performing Arts Center Nov. 21-24.
Agnes in the play tries to come to terms with the death of her nerdy younger sister Tilly by playing her way through Tilly’s favorite game, “Dungeons and Dragons”. The play swings between Agnes’s real-world challenges and the fantasy adventure she undertakes to better understand the “geeky” sister she often dismissed. Through laughter, painful lessons, dangerous combat, and hilarious side quests, Agnes starts to come to the realization that maybe in the real world, Tilly’s legacy of kindness and bravery can outlast even untimely death.
Performances will start at 7 p.m. November 21-23 at 7 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on the 23rd and 24th. Tickets are $10, $7 for students and seniors.
Average Agnes is an uptight college grad who returns home when her family is killed in a car crash. She regrets never being closer with her younger sister Tilly, an adventurous but nerdy girl who was regarded as a weirdo. But when Agnes stumbles upon Tilly’s Dungeons and Dragons module and begins a campaign, it’s as if she’s opened her sister’s diary: Playing the game reveals her sister’s friendships, conflicts at school, and thoughts on perfect Agnes herself.
“We’ve done some really fun shows in the last two years at Schoolcraft – from pirates to the duck yard to noir mystery with comic characters,” explained Director Leigh Fryling. “But once in a while, a show comes along that really delves into and deals with the issues that our students are facing in their real lives, both as high school students and as young adults getting ready to face a difficult world. They face a culture that changes faster and faster with every passing day; the pressure is to figure out who and what they are and want to be at a younger and younger age. These are questions about their personal identities that my generation didn’t encounter often until college.”
Fryling is now teaching in Schoolcraft and has been the theater director for two years. “When my students found out I was considering this play, they went out and bought the script on their own initiative. I was bombarded with requests to do this show. ‘This is me,’ one of my students said. ‘I feel like this is my story. These are my struggles every day. I want to put them on stage so maybe people will understand better how hard it is to be us.’ ‘I was laughing and crying at the same time,’ said another. ‘Stuff like The 39 Steps was fun, but this show is about how we really are now. We gotta do this!’”
To be clear, Frying pointed out, this is not a show for everyone. “There are themes which reflect the adult struggles our kids are starting to face, and real-world monsters that even as grownups we struggle to conquer. Students under 14 will need to be accompanied by a parent.” She added that is another reason that shows like She Kills Monsters are so important to bring to a community: “They open a door to dialogue between the generations and create a space for empathy and understanding that are hard to come by in our lightning paced world.”
“So, come adventure with us. Let’s defeat some evil. Let’s discover some magic. Let’s kill some monsters,” Fryling urged.