Stage North's latest production promises to be a sword-swinging tale of sisterhood that will take audiences through tragedy and fantasy.
She Kills Monsters opens Friday in Fort St. John, a take on the popular role-playing board game Dungeons and Dragons, and which features a predominantly female cast.
The play follows "totally average" Agnes, who returns home after her family is killed in a terrible car crash. Sifting through the emotional wreckage, Agnes discovers a Dungeons and Dragons adventure her geeky little sister Tilly left behind. When Agnes recruits a “dungeon master” to walk her through the game, the audience is plunged into a world of elves, demons, and other monsters.
"It's really fun, it's really cheesy, and it's neat because it's a Dungeons and Dragons play but that's just a vessel," said director Ted Sloan.
"It's really a story about two sisters who don't know each other, trying to get to know each other, thrown in with some 1990s pop music, through this board game."
Nineties pop music aside, the production is also packed with action. Actors spent two weeks with fight choreographer Darren Steele of Edmonton for this action-packed comedy that features up to 14 fight scenes.
"We learned a ton. It's been quite the learning curve," said Emry Mika, who plays Agnes.
Sloan said he's excited and nervous to bring the play to the local stage after it was put on his radar by a fellow actress and friend. The script was written by Qui Nguyen, who was tired of seeing weak female characters, Sloan said, and the production plays with themes of acceptance and family, discovery and courage.
"Agnes never knew her sister at all, but she discovers her sister is gay, that her sister is really cool, and that her sister was a wonderful human being but different than her older sister. So they get closer that way," Sloan said.
The cast of 17 is made up predominantly of young North Peace Secondary graduates that have gone through the school's theatre programs. Among them is Amy Bazin, who plays young Tilly, who is brought to life through the board game.
"I learned a lot about myself playing this character and I've really enjoyed playing it," Bazin said. "Tilly is very confident in who she is and she knows what she likes … that confidence is something I'd like to have more of in my real life."
Coming out to the theatre is a big investment for audiences, one that comes with gratitude from the cast and crew, Sloan said.
"The spine of this play is you have the courage to grow up to be who you want to be. It's all about honour," Sloan said.
"We want people to walk in here, we want to honour them with a good show, we want them to feel like they can honour themselves, and we want them to leave going, 'I'm a great person, I can do what I need to do.' "
She Kills Monsters opens Friday, February 22, at the North Peace Cultural Centre, and runs through to March 2.
For more details and ticket information, click here to visit the cultural centre's website.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at firstname.lastname@example.org.