Iowa City Community Theatre presents virtual take on ‘She Kills Monsters’

Iowa City Community Theatre’s newest virtual performance is an entertaining story of Dungeons & Dragons and adolescent discovery.


Promotional photo for She Kills Monsters, a virtual play put on by the Iowa City Community Theater. Contributed

Parker Jones, Arts Reporter

Fairies, elves, TikTok dances, and Pokemon Go — Iowa City Community Theatre’s newest performance combines new tech with classic Dungeons & Dragons lore in a familiar Zoom format.

On Dec. 10-12, ICCT will present the online performance She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms, which will begin streaming at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

The virtual edition of the hit play She Kills Monsters, originally written by Qui Nguyen, is pre-recorded with dubbed narration and edited transitions between scenes, creating a smoother theatrical experience. It felt closer to a recording of an in-person stage performance than a live virtual play, like the theatre’s virtual performance of Doctor Faustus in April.

Directed by Carrie Pozdol, the play focuses on Agnes Evans, an average high school cheerleader who suddenly loses her geeky teenage sister, Tilly. When Agnes finds Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook, she decides to play the game that was Tilly’s refuge. Going on a journey of discovery and adventure in this new imaginary world of fairies, ogres, and magical battles, Agnes tries to understand her sister while finding her own inner warrior.


A unique aspect of the play that I have not seen in any other virtual adaptations were the animated clips that played over many of the sections narrated by Josh Sazon, as well as during some battle scenes. Though the actual animations were rough and choppy, they added a charming adolescent quality to the play that helped establish the setting and characters as high-school aged.

Additionally, the use of music played over some scenes really helped distract from the virtual format at times. Combined with energetic performances from the cast, the play did feel much like a stage production, if you ignore the boxed screens each of the characters speak from.

Agnes was played by Kelly Yacono, and Tilly was played by Syd Kuhl. Both performances conveyed a realistic, if distant, sisterly relationship. Tristan Maynard brought a comical liveliness to the character of Chuck, the eccentric Dungeon Master of Tilly’s D&D game.

Other characters whose roles were particularly entertaining include Vera, Agnes’ friend and fellow cheerleader (played by Christine Sawka Fraser), Miles, Agnes’ boyfriend (Henry Hunnicutt), Lily, who plays the demon Lillith in D&D (Ad Stratton), Kelly, Tilly’s friend who plays Kaliope the elf in D&D (Ruby Murray), and Ronnie, Kelly’s brother who plays Orcus in D&D (Nick Kilburg).

Props were transferred between Zoom screens pretty smoothly, which I was surprised by. Overall, there were not many technical difficulties, although the editing by Aaron Pozdol likely helped tie in the different scenes, animations, music, and other sound effects.

The play ultimately has a millennial feel to it, both in its actual writing and in the way it was presented, which makes sense because the original play is set in 1995. One scene that really took me out of the play was the dance battle between several of the characters, which was presented in a mock TikTok dance duet. It felt out of place to me, although I understand tying in new technology to make it relatable for younger audiences.

I would recommend seeing the play for an hour of entertaining high school drama, self-discovery, and magical fantasy elements. She Kills Monsters is a story that keeps your attention, and Iowa City Community Theatre brings it to life successfully even in its virtual format.