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Theatre / She Kills Monsters

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"Rumor has it you know a thing or two about D&D."
Agnes Evans

She Kills Monsters is a dramatic comedy play by Qui Nguyen that debuted in 2011. It is the story of Agnes Evans, a young woman leaving her childhood home shortly after the death of her geeky little sister, Tilly. Upon finding a homemade Dungeons & Dragons module Tilly made shortly before her passing, Agnes decides to play the game in order to understand her sister more. To this end, she enlists the assistance of Chuck, a teenager who used to play D&D with Tilly.

The play jumps between the real world and the game world as Agnes travels through the quest from the module to learn about the girl she called sister.

Along with the original version, Nguyen later created a "Young Adventurers Edition" for high school students and She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms in 2020 for video conferencing-based productions.

She Kills Monsters provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The Virtual Realms edition, which came out in 2020 during the COVID-19 Pandemic, sets the story in 2019 rather the original 1995 setting, updating the pop culture references to reflect the time period.
  • The '90s: Most versions of the play are set in 1995, with all of the appropriate pop culture references included.
  • Abridged for Children: The "Young Adventurers Edition" changes the older characters from 20-somethings into high schoolers and omits the more harsh profanity and sexual references.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: While all three versions end with Agnes defeating Tiamat before moving on and continuing to play D&D with Tilly's friends, there are some major differences between the original ending and the "Young Adventurers" and "Virtual Realms" endings:
    • Original: Agnes marries Miles, they have kids, and move away from Athens.
    • Young Adventurers: High-school aged Agnes and Miles break up and become friends, and he joins her to play D&D. Agnes eventually goes to college and moves away from Athens.
    • Virtual Realms: Similar to Young Adventurers, except Agnes grows up and "always remembered fondly the day she killed monsters."
  • Alpha Bitch: The evil succubi cheerleaders, who bully Tilly for being gay, and their real life counterparts, who are implied to have done the same.
  • Ambiguously Gay: While the original play is explicit about Tillius/Tilly and Lilith/Lily being lesbians, the editions made for younger students make it more ambiguous without erasing the possibility completely. Chuck in these versions says Tillius is a guy character, despite Agnes imagining them as her sister Tilly. Whether Tilly and Lily are gay, or Tilly identifies as a guy, or neither, is left unclear. Played for Drama, since Agnes can no longer ask the real Tilly.
  • Artistic License: In-universe. Some of the over-the-top sexiness of the party members and their dialogue is due to being interpreted by Chuck.
    Chuck: This is what your sister wrote.
    Agnes: "Violence makes me hot."
    Chuck: Okay, so there's definitely a certain amount of improv involved, but I swear this is the gist of what Tilly created.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: When Tilly's party is introduced. The script directions say:
    ( TILLY steps up beside KALIOPE, and LILITH and do badass poses with their weapons as if they're at a photo shoot.)
  • Author Appeal: In-universe. Everyone in New Landia, Tilly's D&D setting, is gay (except Agnes), since Tilly herself was, and her party members include a sexy demon queen and dark elf. The sexiness aspects are made especially apparent with Chuck as DM.
  • Big Bad: The five-headed dragon goddess, Tiamat, is played up from the beginning as the final boss as she has taken Tillius's soul in revenge for her defeat at Tillius's hands. The entire Quest for the Lost Soul of Athens centers around getting to Tiamat to save Tilly's soul.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Great Mage Steve, in all but one appearance, gets brutally but hilariously beaten by whichever monster the party is tasked to fight. In one case, he even got killed by Agnes.
  • But You Were There, and You, and You: Agnes talks to her sister Tilly through Tilly's alter ego in the game, Tillius the Paladin. Agnes later recognizes the entire party is made up of fantasy versions of Tilly's real-life friends, while Tilly's enemies - her bullies, Agnes's boyfriend, and Vera the Guidance Counselor - appear as bad guys the party has to fight.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Everyone in New Landia, Tilly's D&D setting, is gay (except Agnes), since Tilly herself was.
  • Closet Gay:
    • Tilly was gay, as Agnes discovers through the module. The in-game version of her refers to her real life version as a "dorky fifteen-year-old closeted lesbian". It's a source of drama that Agnes is only learning this secondhand, and only after Tilly's death.
    • Tilly had something going on with her friend Lilly, who the narrator refers to at the very end as "Lilly the Closeted". After Agnes' first disastrous meeting with Lilly where she gets carried away trying to get her to admit to the relationship, Vera tells her:
      Vera: […] that is a seventeen-year-old girl who's been dating a member of that Athens High football team for over a year. If she's in the closet, she's in there deep.
  • Covert Pervert: Agnes is taken aback at her sister having created scantily-clad, sexy-looking female characters.
  • Dance-Off: In their second encounter with the succubi, the party challenges them to a dance battle which ends with stabbing them while they're distracted.
  • Dark Action Girl: Lilith and Kaliope, the other members of Tilly's party, are a demon queen and a dark elf respectively.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Said as much by Kaliope to Agnes' character.
    Kaliope: Would you like to copulate with me now?
    Agnes: What?
    Kaliope: I think it would make you feel better. I hear you humans like to do such things.
  • Emotionless Girl: Kaliope. Apparently emotionlessness is a elf trait.
    Kaliope: But we're lacking in "emotional awareness."
    Agnes: What? Are you like a robot or something?
    Kaliope: No, we're Elves. We're above emotions. That's a human trait.
  • Gay Euphemism: When the in-game Tilly reveals that the real Tilly was gay, she phrases it thusly:
    Tilly: […] I'd venture to guess that maybe the author of this world was into wearing tanktops and The Indigo Girls.
  • Gayngst: Tilly was bullied for being gay, which is reflected in her module through the succubi characters.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: When Kaliope propositions Agnes' character.
    Agnes: CHUCK! I'm not going to have sex with the Elf-girl!
    Chuck: What? I don't want to see you have sex with the sexy Elf-girl. Why would I want to see that? Ew, gross, hot-girl on hot-girl action.
  • The Hero: Agnes Evans, the main protagonist.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Chuck is a high schooler. As dungeon master, he emphasizes the sexiness of the female party members and tries to get Agnes' character to have sex with Kaliope at one point.
  • Hot as Hell: Lilith the Demon Queen is described as a "leather-clad dominatrix".
  • Hot Teacher: Zig-zagged. Agnes, who is a teacher in the original version of the play, is called hot by Chuck and Ronnie, who hit on her more than once. Yet she is called average-looking by the narrator.
  • Imagined Innuendo: When Agnes meets Chuck:
    Agnes: I'm looking for a Chuck Biggs?
    Chuck: You're looking at him! But my hommies just call me simply DM Biggs cause, you know, I'm "big" where it counts.
    Agnes: Uh...
    Chuck: As in MY BRAIN!
    Agnes: [relieved] Oh!!!
  • Intergenerational Friendship: 25-year-old Agnes forms one with high-schooler Chuck and later Tilly's whole teenaged friend group during their D&D sessions. Downplayed in versions where all the characters are teens, where it's more of a Freshman-Senior dynamic.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Agnes's boyfriend begins to suspect she is cheating on him with Chuck, when they are in fact just playing D&D together.
  • Posthumous Character: Tilly dies during the prologue, and appears on stage through the game module she left behind.
  • The Reveal: At the climax, Tillius, her party members, Orcus, and The Great Mage Steve are revealed to have been Tiamat in shapeshifted disguise all along.
  • Succubi and Incubi: The party fights a pair of succubi.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Often literally, in this case.
    • Evil Tina and Evil Gabbi are the most blatant examples, acting as both literal succubi in the game and as bullies in real life.
    • Tilly/Tillius, while a Paladin and a sympathetic figure, often acts antagonistically to Agnes, especially in forcing her to kill an Evil Doppelgänger of her boyfriend. Becomes more literal when she reveals herself as Tiamat.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: In four of the five appearances of The Great Mage Steve, he gets murdered in a comical manner, usually by whatever creature the party will fight.
  • World of Action Girls: In the game world, all of the female adventurers are fighters and warriors.