Written by Patrick Chavis
Qui Nguyen made a big noise in Orange County Theatre the last few years. He’s written two successful plays for South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa– “Vietgone” and its’ sequel “Poor Yella Rednecks.” While we’ve reviewed both of his shows with high marks, “Poor Yella Rednecks” received an Exceptional Rating. As a reviewer, for me, this was my first experience with this playwright. The Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing arts puts on a fun, spirited production of “She Kills Monsters”, with a script that benefits from having a young cast play the parts.
“She Kills Monsters” is the story of two sisters– older sister Agnes (played by Sabrina Heim) and her little sister Tilly (played by Paige O’Neal). The play is set in Athens, Ohio, in 1995. The drastically different sisters Agnes likes Average things like Boys, and shopping, while Tilly is a nerd of sorts and enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons and Role-Playing fantasy games. When Tilly tragically dies, Agnes goes on a fantasy Dungeons and Dragons quest of her own to discover the sister she never really knew when she was alive.
This performance was done in a theater, in the round style. For those who might be unaware, this means theatergoers are watching the play in the center of the room as chairs are surrounding the stage.
I got Kevin Smith vibes from the play because of how the characters talked, and the multiple pop culture references being thrown around. Kevin Smith is a film director famous for “Mall Rats” and “Clerks” in the 90s. Also similar to Smith, the show had some foul language (but not much).
The story has a lot of heart buried under pop culture and fantasy, which helps propel the story forward, and it works. Regret is a major theme in this play, and I think most people would be able to relate with the character of Agnes, who regrets not learning more about her sister when she had the chance. Try not to take things for granted because one day they might be gone.
Acting-wise, when the actors are relaxing and having a good time, the sophomoric humor and comedy work best.
Sabrina Heim was a good straight woman. She did a good job keeping to the character while making the other characters look zanier around her.
I thought Grady Farman stood out in this cast. He understood the assignment. Farman played Orcus, a character that would rather watch tv than fight enemies. He played the quintessential slacker to a T and got a few laughs from the crowd.
Understandable goof on the part of the costuming for the show. Chuck, one of the characters in the show, is probably wearing Nintendo 64 shirt because it can be considered “retro” at this point. This is weird for me cause I’m old enough to remember when it was new. Nintendo 64 didn’t come out until 1996
Goof aside– if you’re a fan of early 90’s comedies with a touch of geek humor, these high school kids put on sound production, and it’s definitely worth a watch.
NOV 18 & 19,2021.