"She Kills Monsters," show #860
An epically enjoyable campaign is happening at Selma Arts Center in the form of Qui Nguyen’s poignant and entertaining play, She Kills Monsters. Now, fear not, those who are unfamiliar with the Dungeons and Dragons game (like this very reviewer), you need not have pre-existing knowledge nor intimate experience with the D&D community to enjoy this play. If you appreciate female-centered theatre and some terrific acting, then Selma’s She Kills Monsters is the show for you!
A duo of outstanding talent, Aleah Muniz (Agnes) and Liliana Morgan (Tilly) lead this adventure with a knack for sibling chemistry and emotionally-driven acting that grounds and drives the heartbeat of this otherwise heavily fantasy-driven play. Muniz and Morgan curate a deep-seated sisterly bond which director Claudio Laso, and assistant director Chris Ortiz-Belcher, have no issue highlighting when the script calls for it. The slowing down and quieter moments of the sister-driven dialogue is resonant to those of us who have ever lost someone close enough to be a sibling. Muniz and Morgan deliver every ounce of comedy and female-dominating prowess to ensure their characters are given due justice in the battle scenes.
(L to R: Grace Morrow (Lilith/Lily), Liliana Morgan (Tilly), Sine Chan-Golston (Kaliope/Kelly); Photo credit: Kyle Lowe)
Supporting highlights come from the superb pairing of Grace Morrow as Lilith/Lily and Sine Chan-Golston as Kaliope/Kelly. Morrow carries a hefty load as the focus of Tilly’s attraction, and delivers a fantastic one-dimensional fairy paired with a fully-realized troubled high schooler, giving her scene work opposite Muniz a level of depth the play requires to be poignantly theatrical. Chan-Goldstein is great as the complementary fairy, giving laughs, a dance turn, and a comically honest performance in both roles she holds. Carly Oliver is an alluring Narrator, Nwachukwu, and is perfectly tempered as the no-nonsense high school counselor, Vera, while Savannah West and Hannah Raylynn steal the show as the evil cheerleader pairing, serving as true antagonists to the grouping of D&D party. Diego Barba rounds out the supporting cast with some fun takes as Orcus/Ronnie, the horny-driven testosterone holder of the female-dominated group.
(Nwachukwu (Vera) speaking to Aleah Muniz (Agnes); Photo credit: Kyle Lowe)
A play like She Kills Monsters requires energetically driven performers in balance with superb tech, and the technical designs certainly deliver in this production. Annelise Escobedo-Lyman’s costume design gives the audience a visually engaging palate, as they define the characters effectively and brightly. Christina McCollam’s lighting design is expert in its illumination of scene changes, location shifts, and moody focus. Kimberly Houston’s puppet design is wonderfully utilized when it counts towards the end of the play in providing the payoff for the suspension of disbelief the audience I was asked to live in for the 90-minute campaign.
(Aleah Muniz (Agnes) surrounded by cast of She KIlls Monsters; Photo credit: Kyle Lowe)
She Kills Monsters is, in the best form of the words, a weird, fun play. I remember thinking I had seen it years ago while studying for my Theatre degree when really I had just seen a few classmates do a scene from it. Two New York trips ago I spent a morning reading it while rushing a play and I remember thinking that this would be a perfect play for Selma Arts Center to produce. And then they announced it. So of course I saw it. They are the right company to have done it, and will certainly roll a Nat 20 into your heart. Go see this show!