Taylor Mitchell, A&E Editor
This past weekend JSU’s Drama Department opened its 2018-2019 season with their production of She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen. The play is an interesting one about a woman named Agnes Evan who lives and always has lived in the small town of Athens, Ohio. Agnes’ family, including her younger sister Tilly, have recently died in a car accident, leaving Agnes alone and with the realization she never really got to know her sister. Agnes discovers a binder containing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign her sister had written, she decides to play through it in hopes of finally get to know her sister. Along the way, Agnes not only gets to know the world and characters her sister and her friends made, but also who her sister was as a person.
Since this was the first time I have seen the She Kills Monsters in any form I feel compelled to talk first about how wonderfully it is written. The writing, in equal parts, had me snorting with laughter and my friend sitting next to me in tears. It is a very personal story, but with that in mind it never takes itself all that seriously. Many characters possess a snarkiness to them that always keeps them grounded and never overly dramatic. It also seems to truly its subject matter. As a Dungeons and Dragons player myself, (oh no looks like that secrets out) this play felt like a love letter to the game I love. The set up for the twist at the end is especially brilliant as it had me second guessing my own understanding of the game. Most people probably didn’t even notice it, which makes it a wonderful bit of foreshadowing. The script also just has wonderful amounts of heart that, when put together with the humor, weaves together a story that hits exactly like it should.
The way JSU Drama brings it all together is both ambitious and complicated. The show required a large amount of specialized pieces to work. There was puppetry, projection, and sword fighting; all of which were wonderfully done and you can just feel all the work that went into them. The acting was also amazing. Chloe Barnes and Allison Lawley are magnificent as the leads Tilly and Agnes. They bring both wonderful comedic timing as well as really showing just what loss can do to people. Lawley does a very good job at portraying just how lost Agnes is and how confused she is about what she is doing and feeling. Barnes is wonderful as the sometimes braggy and sarcastic, but also incredible insecure Tilly. The supporting cast is also altogether wonderful. I specifically enjoyed Tiffany Jenkins as Lilith/Lily and Christian Watts as Chuck. They both brought fun and energy to their parts that was incredible enjoyable.
All and all the play was fantastic. If you got to see it I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and if you didn’t I sincerely hope you make it to another show. If JSU Drama can bring the same quality to their other shows as they have this one, we are in for a very good season.