“Dungeons and Dragons,” death, combat and family are at the heart of a new play this fall.
Lewis University’s Philip Lynch Theatre presents “She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen. Inspired by the phenomenally successful role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons,” the action-packed play runs Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 3-6. Evening performances begin at 8 p.m., while Sunday matinees begin at 2:30 p.m. A 4 p.m. matinee will be performed on Oct. 5.
“She Kills Monsters” is about a 20-something teacher named Agnes (Jordin Richards of Tinley Park) living in 1995 Ohio and trying to deal with the tragic death of her 15-year-old sister Tilly (Hannah Taylor of Rockton). It is directed by Lewis theater professor Kevin Trudeau. A friend and fellow gamer turned him onto the play, and he immediately knew he wanted to do it at Lewis.
There’s a large amount of stage combat in the play, but at its heart it is an emotional journey, he said.
“She never really got to know her sister. Her sister was a nerd, and the play is set in 1995 when being a nerd was less socially acceptable than it is now,” he said.
As she is going through her sister’s things, she finds an adventure module for “Dungeons and Dragons.” In a posthumous attempt to get to know her sister, Agnes decides to play this module.
Coached by a teenaged gamer named Chuck (Brendan Casey of Joliet), Agnes plays through an elaborate story found in Tilly’s notebook, where she discovers Tilly had created a fierce warrior persona and turned people from her real life into fantasy characters.
“The play ends with a duel with a five-headed dragon,” Trudeau said. “Obviously, we’re not going to have a real dragon. They were too expensive to rent, and dragon wranglers are hard to find.”
His cast of 18 students is handling the somewhat heavy material well, he said.
“They’re probably more focused on the awesome butt-kicking parts of it,” he said. “But they are also connecting with some of the emotional parts of the show. Sure, it has all this adventure and magic and demon queens … all things I can get in touch with because I played D and D when I was a kid, but there’s all the emotional stuff as well.”
Agnes discovers through the gaming that her younger sister was gay.
“At the end of the play … I get a little choked up because it’s about acceptance,” he said.
This play will appeal to many people, he said.
“We haven’t done too many shows like this that has this amount of stage combat. And certainly if you are a nerd or nerd-friendly, there’s lots of things in this pay to enjoy, but there’s also a human dimension to enjoy,” he said. “In terms of the story of two sisters who didn’t know each other in real life getting to know each other later, which is touching. So I think there’s something in this play for just about anyone.”
The play is recommended for those 16 and over for language and content.
Other cast members include Rachel Tau of Wood Dale, Sylmarie Soto of Joliet, Katy Papineau of Kankakee, Faith Berry of Joliet, Kamil Borowski of Stickney, Matt Carlson of Lockport, Tyler Senjanin of Evergreen Park, and Mary Bradley of Palos Heights.