"She Kills Monsters" feels like an homage to the time when the validation of nerds first began.
You don’t have to be a die-hard fan of Dungeons & Dragons to appreciate Company One’s latest production. But, if you are, all the better. You'll likely find yourself hooting and hollering as Tilly and friends put on their “battle faces” to defeat the bug bears and combat the Gelatinous Cube.
Nerds of all ages will delight as swords fly and heads roll in this “time before Facebook,” when you were instructed to “give in to your given circumstances.” If you know what TSR is — and agree that they make the rules — you’ll easily overlook many of this play's shortcomings as you succumb to the sheer delight of watching a band of hot nerds dance-battle a gang of evil cheerleaders.
For the rest of us, though, it's not quite so easy to fall under the production's spell. If the warbling set pieces are meant to be cheap, flimsy and distracting, they've succeeded, especially in the latter. They only serve to detract from the storytelling. If they’re not, Eric Diaz’s set design is an abomination. The same can be said of the wrinkled sheets on which graphics are projected during the show’s rather unspectacular opening.
The story stumbles in places and is dragged down by a momentum-killing intermission. But, to its credit, retro, pop-culture references to "The Real World" and "Friends" are snappy and amusing enough to help one forgive many of the its missteps.
Fans and detractors alike will find it hard to dispute the quality of the acting. Mike Handelman delivers an authentically riotous turn as Chuck D.M. Biggs. Noam Ash is delightful as nerd extraordinaire Steve, while Meredith Saran and Jordan Clark bring the sex appeal as Lilith and Tilly, respectively.
If you go:
"She Kills Monsters"
Through May 11, $10-$38
BCA Plaza Theater