“She Kills Monsters” comes to Mercer

Cevonn+Williams%2C+Monica+Stephenson%2C+and+Noelle+Fancher+rehearsing+a+fight+scene+for+She+Kills+Monsters
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“She Kills Monsters” comes to Mercer

Cevonn Williams, Monica Stephenson, and Noelle Fancher rehearsing a fight scene for She Kills Monsters

Cevonn Williams, Monica Stephenson, and Noelle Fancher rehearsing a fight scene for She Kills Monsters

Suzanna Price

Cevonn Williams, Monica Stephenson, and Noelle Fancher rehearsing a fight scene for She Kills Monsters

Suzanna Price

Suzanna Price

Cevonn Williams, Monica Stephenson, and Noelle Fancher rehearsing a fight scene for She Kills Monsters

Nicholas Wooten, Editor in Chief

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The Mercer Players will present playwright Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters” at Tattnall Square Center for the Arts Nov. 10-13 and Nov. 17-20.

Nguyen’s comedy chronicles the adventures of heroine Agnes Evans, a straight-laced high school teacher from a small town in Ohio, as she looks to soothe her grief by learning more about Tilly, her younger sister, who died in a car crash at the age of 15.

The coping medium: Tilly’s custom Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Knowing nothing of the D&D world, Agnes enlists the help of local comic store employee Chuck to serve as her guide.

As Agnes progresses, her attitude towards geek culture and her estranged relationship with her departed younger sibling improves.

Set in the middle of the 1990s, the play is sprinkled with pop culture references that will resonate with today’s college crowd — think flannel and angsty grunge music.

Scot Mann, Mercer Theatre Director, said in an email that this is part of the play’s appeal and one of the reasons they chose to put on the show.

Ashley Greene, the actress playing Agnes, said that the show is “silly” compared to other more serious works the group has done before, like “Hedda Gabler,” but that doesn’t mean that this work won’t “hit you in the feelings.”

Beyond issues of geek culture and the death of a family member, the play addresses issues of identity, gender and fantasy escapism.

“I was tearing up reading the script,” she said.

Greene said that preparation and casting began in mid-September because of the play’s many fight scenes. The cast features a lot of freshman new to stage combat, Greene said.

“We had to have that much time,” she said.

To help prepare, Mann, a Fight Master with the Society of American Fight Directors, trained the cast in the Filipino martial art Kali, which includes double stick work and traditional Japanese sword Shinkendo. The balance between safety and entertainment, Mann said, is paramount.

“We use real steel on stage, but we are not protected by fencing masks and padded equipment since the characters would not be wearing them. Kali was instrumental in training the cast how to have that control while selling the illusion of violence,” Mann said. “It was excellent training for a show that features a lot of action scenes, and the cast had fun learning something useful and new.”

In addition to the intricate fight scenes, the show will also feature adult language and sexual humor — enough for Greene to call her mother to tell her that she might not like the show.

“I’m very proud of the work that is being done on the entire production. The creative team has produced a killer set, great special effects, stunning costumes, and the actors are doing them all justice,” Mann said. “This is an exciting show with a nice human touch. It does involve adult situations and language, but what D&D adventure doesn’t?”

Tickets for the play are $15, and $10 with a Mercer I.D. Advance purchase is recommended, but tickets will also be available at the door. Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 10-12 and 17-19, and 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 and 20.

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