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Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters,” which opens Saturday at the Robin Theatre, tells the story of Agnes, who, in losing herself in a game of “Dungeons & Dragons,” discovers who her late sister truly was.
“The play is all about how Agnes Evans is trying to learn a little bit about her sister,” said Jeff Croff, artistic director of Ixion Theatre and director of this production. “She lost her entire family in a car accident years prior and is finally forced to confront the loss as she is preparing to move in with her boyfriend.”
This is where geek culture comes in. Agnes finds a window into her sister’s life in the form of a roleplaying game.
“She comes across a stack of papers, which she then takes into a game shop and learns that it is a ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ module that her sister had created,” Croff said. “She wants to play it to try to get closer and learn a little bit more about her sister.”
As she delves into the world of fantasy gaming, she meets a colorful cast of characters, including a socially awkward game store proprietor and gang of misfit gamers.
While Croff describes the play as a “comedic romp,” it does have a dark side. As Agnes enters the imaginary world that was her sister’s creation and refuge, she discovers that she didn’t really know her sister. The revelation that her sister was gay and bullied in school takes Agnes by surprise.
“The play addresses loss, but it also addresses understanding,” Croff said. “It involves learning that her sister was gay and some of the issues she faced in being a closeted lesbian in high school.”
While “She Kills Monsters” dwells in the fantastic worlds of “Dungeons & Dragons,” Croff cautions audiences not to expect an epic production.
“Its not going to be ‘The Lord of the Rings,’” said Croff. “What we all imagine after a world of pop culture films and television can’t be done on stage. But it’s also sort of a challenge, how can you make it happen within the confines of doing theater — let alone a small theatre.”
The play takes an imaginative look at the way people deal with loss.
“The biggest thing with Agnes is that she had dealt with grief,” said Katy Kettles, who plays Agnes in this production. “She is not only dealing with the grief of losing her sister, but she is also discovering that there was a lot of her sister she had no idea about.”
Despite the play’s inherent geekiness, Kettles finds a message that is relatable to anyone who has lost a loved one.
“The way Agnes deals with grief is something that I think a lot of people deal with when they lose somebody,” Kettles said. “ I think a lot of times, when we lose somebody, there is always that sense of what we didn’t say and what we weren’t able to say.”
“She Kills Monsters”
Ixion Theatre 8 p.m. Saturday, March 19; 7 p.m. Sunday, March 20; 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 26; 7 p.m. Sunday, March 27 $15 Robin Theatre 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing.
(517) 775-4246, ixiontheatre.com