***Updated as if 3:56pm***
This show has now canceled its encore performances.
Reviewed by Matt Ritchey
She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen is an amazing play. It tells a very real story of Agnes, a school teacher, trying to get to know her younger sister Tilly who sadly died in a car crash with her parents. Tilly has left behind a Dungeons and Dragons notebook and Agnes employs the help of Chuck, a local comic shop worker, to help her decipher it by playing the game herself. Step by step, Agnes not only starts to get swept up in the grandeur of the game but to understand her sister in ways she never thought possible.
Sugevi Productions brought Agnes, Tilly, and the rest to life at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this year, turning the Hobgoblin Theatre into a mystical realm of dragons, demons, orcs, and Steve. The multi-media aspect of video made some interesting moments, mostly acting as backdrops, but the real transformations happened when the actors took us to these places on stage, their imaginations firing our own.
Vivi Thai and Susannah Snowden-Ifft carry the show as Agnes and Tilly, giving emotional and thoughtful performances as sisters bonding across time. The rest of the cast also does well, notably Harry Owen as Chuck. The stage combat and sword scenes are incredibly well-executed, but the intent behind them is what really makes the show memorable.
If there was a quibble to be had, it’s that less could be more. As imagination is the key to how Agnes connects with Tilly, it could also be so with the audience, relying less on video images which often serve as sub-par backdrops (located in a screen above the action). The climactic scene where Agnes battles the dragon Tiamat is a wonderful moment of actor and stage usage and this stagecraft more fully informs the audience’s imaginations than a realistic-looking shot of a forest.
She Kills Monsters is a fun, very funny, and emotional show about friendship, love, and fitting in. Well worth seeing during Extensions.
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