REVIEW: CSUSM Theatre’s She Kills Monsters walks the line between fantasy and virtual reality


Photo credit to CSUSM Theatre and its graphic designer

CSUSM Theatre recently held their first performance of the spring 2021 semester She Kills Monsters.

Angelica Cervantes, Staff Writer

CSUSM Theatre’s production of She Kills Monsters: A Virtual Realm creates a daring and memorable story that will have its audience in tears of both joy and sadness. 

Surrounding the relationship of two polar opposite sisters, this play uses the basis of the game Dungeons and Dragons to help carry the thematic idea of battling your own monsters. 

Agnes, the average older sister, and Tilly, the geeky younger sister, clash in personality and their way of communication. It is not until Tilly’s sudden and mysterious death that Agnes begins to realize how much she took her younger sister for granted. 

Agnes meets a nerdy boy named Chuck, also known as Dungeon Master Biggs, who helps guide her quest in a D&D game to feel more connected to her deceased sister. In this thrilling tale, Agnes meets a variety of strange, alluring and even scary characters within the game. She rises from her role as an average cheerleader with a closed mind by learning to accept other people and their eclectic lifestyles.

Though She Kills Monsters may seem like an adventurous comedy, this story also tackles important themes about family, friendship and sexuality. Agnes’ journey is more than just battling the monsters she faces in the game, but the monsters that exist in real life. 

Sometimes the worst monsters are the ones from home, or even the ones we deal with on a day-to-day basis at school. The balance between fantasy and reality creates multifaceted and entertaining storytelling.

Though the pandemic has prevented in-person theater, forcing the performance to take place over Zoom, the artistry and emotion of every character still managed to transcend the virtual format of the story. 

Even the D&D setup of the game presented a unique visual that made the audience feel as though they were playing an online game. The virtual theatrics made it feel like the audience was part of the story. The special effects that helped morph the characters into monsters was an innovative solution to creating an atmospheric world of fantasy. She Kills Monsters proves how theater can successfully adapt during these strange times and provide a well-thought-out story.

This production has proved to be moving in the way it figuratively and literally projects its story. In one way or another, you can relate to characters or themes. Even if you cannot relate to the story, it still provides an important lesson that anyone should take the time to hear and understand. 

Angelica Cervantes is a recent transfer to CSUSM and is now a staff writer for The Cougar Chronicle. She enjoys writing her own stories as well as watching various types of films. She aspires to become a screenwriter and to have an influence in cinema.