She Kills Monsters at Buzz22 Chicago | Theater review

Qui Nguyen's knowing, ceaselessly likable nerd service mines genuine emotion amid its swords-and-sorcery goofiness.

1/4
Photograph: Michael Brosilow

She Kills Monsters at Buzz22 Chicago

2/4
Photograph: Michael Brosilow

She Kills Monsters at Buzz22 Chicago

3/4
Photograph: Michael Brosilow

She Kills Monsters at Buzz22 Chicago

4/4
Photograph: Michael Brosilow

She Kills Monsters at Buzz22 Chicago

Pop playwright Qui Nguyen’s 2011 paean to RPGs should warm the hearts of nerds across Chicago in Buzz22’s almost endlessly inventive production. The story centers on a young woman who discovers a Dungeons & Dragons module written by her now-deceased younger sister, and enlists the help of a high-school dungeonmaster to try and reconnect with her sibling via role-playing.

Set in 1995, Monsters wrings much of its humor from deliciously dorky references to the early days of the Internet and mid-’90s TV. As consummate in-crowder Agnes (Katherine Banks) discovers the inner (and ended) life of high-school outsider Tilly (Jessica London-Shields) via rolls of the dice, Scott Weinstein’s production mines genuine emotion amid the swords-and-sorcery goofiness. Although Nguyen drops the ball on a couple of tangential subplots, extraordinarily accomplished design elements make this a geeky must-see.

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