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Preview: “She Kills Monsters”

Duels, dungeons and dragons – oh, my.

Dungeons and Dragons may be a household name as far as board games go, but in Belmont University’s production of “She Kills Monsters,” the creatures and adventures come out of the notebooks and onto the stage.

Originally written by Qui Nguyen, this adaptation is a part of Belmont’s Senior Capstone series and is directed by Sam Lowry.

“She Kills Monsters” is about a woman, Agnes Evans, dealing with the death of her younger, nerdy sister Tilly by delving – literally – into the world of Dungeons and Dragons.

From grieving to cheering about killing a Bug Bear, the entire spectrum of emotions is well-represented throughout the performance. It can be hard to portray the evolution of emotions during a time of grief, but Mckenzie Wilkes, who plays Agnes, does remarkably well.

Lauren Mincy as Tilly – or Tillius the Paladin – also stands out as someone to watch. She embodies her character extremely well and manages to make an internal conflict reach the hearts of the audience members in a way only a great actress can.

The choreography deserves notice as well – specifically the fights. Dungeons and Dragons comes with plenty of duels, and the fight choreographer Craig Fairbanks made the most of it. The fights don’t come across as fake or cheesy, and they may just have you sitting on the edge of your seat as you wait for the final outcome.

The Black Box Theater is a small area to work with, and Lowry made the most of the space by including rolling walls to switch scenes in a matter of seconds. The result is a nearly seamless transition from the real world to the game – something represented in the script as well.

The audience sits facing the set head-on in a single block of seats. However, because of the angled walls, arriving early to claim a seat in the middle of the theater will prove to be worthwhile.

One thing to remember when watching the show is not all the action happens in the foreground. Keep a close eye on Chuck, the Dungeon Master, as he looks out over the rest of the cast. It’ll be worth it and highly entertaining.

With a goal of humanizing nerds and geeks – especially during the tumultuous time that is high school – the play does more than just achieve its goal. It makes the audience join the characters on an emotional roller coaster and enjoy the ride.

Fans of fantasy, action and adventure will enjoy seeing this performance, and you don’t have to play Dungeons and Dragons to easily follow the storyline and love the characters.

It was only the play’s opening weekend, so it’s bound to improve as the actors continue to perform for audiences. Don’t miss its remaining performances this upcoming weekend, with showtimes on Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets for Belmont students are free or $5 to the public.

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