A review of Central High School's 'She Kills Monsters'
This play has everything: dungeon masters, evil demon cheerleaders, monster boyfriends and a path through loss. The talented students of Central High School pulled open the curtain last night for “She Kills Monsters:” a play straddling the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons and 1990s Athens, Ohio. From the marketing to the actors on stage, the production was almost entirely student-led and each department made impressive contributions to the experience.
The play opens with narrator Farrah the Fairy (Jolena Valdez) introducing the audience to our main player, Agnes (Flora Nobles), and preparing us for the journey she is about to go on. Following the death of her younger sister, Tilly (Carlee Nunn), high school senior Agnes finds Tilly's Dungeons & Dragons notebook. In her quest to find out more, she meets the geeky Chuck (Finnley Forsythe) and embarks on the adventure her sister had written. Joined by adventurous versions of her sister’s real-life friends — Lilith aka Lily (Alana Tran), Kaliope aka Kelly (Rylee Lewis) and Orcus aka Ronnie (Jay Carbajal) — Agnes is able to see the world as her sister saw it, and discover so much more about her than she ever imagined.
The play shines throughout: Nobles is relatable and empathetic as Agnes from the very beginning.Her best friend Vera (Lilith Shook) is both hilarious and endearing. Johnathan Casias excels as Agnes’ sweet boyfriend, Miles, but perhaps even more impressive is the soundtrack he curated as the sound designer of the show. Straight out of the ‘90s, the music both sets the scene and keeps the play’s pace.
The props and scene design team did excellent work at immersing the audience in both worlds of the play. Orcus’ slacker-throne (complete with Funyuns and Cheez-Whiz!) as well as The Gap stand out. Similarly impressive were the weapons of the young warriors, which were both whimsical and iconic. The play’s fight scenes were well performed, and Sophia Cisney and Samantha Smith-Ingo absolutely crackled with hilarious horror as the evil succubus cheerleaders. Even the intermission snacks stood out with names that kept Agnes' journey close at hand.
All in all, the play was a joy to experience; it was honest, funny and bittersweet. By the end of the evening, I left with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. You could feel the passion of the entire team for the entire run, and it was a reminder of why cultivation of the arts here in Pueblo is so vital. It connects us with the different parts of ourselves and each other that we may not always see: the complicated, the fierce, the beautiful and the geeky.
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