Though the play She Kills Monsters bears a resemblance to the Netflix series Stranger Things, Professor Matthew Greene didn’t make a connection between the shows when he chose the former as the Stonehill Theatre Company (STC) production for fall 2022. 

“It was a total coincidence,” the director said. “Students made me aware of the similarities after the fact.” 

Both the play and season four of the streaming series, which premiered last summer, feature plots involving Dungeons & Dragons, the tabletop role-playing game. The two productions also include strong female protagonists, action split between middle America and a fantasy realm, elaborate sequences involving terrifying monsters, and plenty of 20th century nostalgia.

“Even though I haven’t watched Stranger Things, the fact that our show touches on something that is familiar to audiences should offer a good entry into our production for students and others interested in seeing what we’ve put together,” Greene said.  

Written by Qui Nguyen, She Kills Monsters is set in 1995. The play follows Agnes Evans, an Ohioan who loses her sister Tilly in a car accident. Having been estranged from her sibling, Agnes decides to get to know Tilly better by playing a Dungeons & Dragons module that she wrote while she was alive. As our protagonist embarks on a mystical quest filled with demons, elves and other creatures, she comes to realize how little she truly knew about her loved one.  

From left to right: Olivia Vezina '24, Professor Matthew Greene and Shannon Labuza '23.

Olivia Vezina ’24 plays Agnes in the STC production. Throughout the rehearsal process, the psychology major and theatre arts minor from Bristol, Rhode Island, has come to identify with her character’s experience of being a fish out of water. 

“Agnes has never played Dungeons & Dragons before,” she said. “Like her, I’ve found myself in unfamiliar territory during this production. This show involves a lot of stage combat, which is new to me. The rehearsal process has been intense, but I’ve loved it. It’s been a lot of fun.” 

Vezina notes that Greene has been an invaluable resource to her and the rest of the cast as they prepare for these fight scenes. 

“I’ve learned so much from him,” she said. “Watching him tackle the stage combat is amazing because he’s so good at it. You feel like you’re never going to get it because it’s so difficult, but he really helps guide you until you do. He is so patient with us.” 

Helping students stage intense battle sequences was but one of the challenges Greene faced while preparing for this production. The director also had to figure out how to make the show’s monsters seem realistic without the resources of a Broadway production. He received some help from his colleagues at the University of Connecticut, his undergraduate institution.   

“They did this show there last year,” Greene said. “They’ve let us use puppets that they featured in their production. I’m excited to draw people into this fantasy world in such a unique way.” 

To help bring these creatures to life, Greene drafted Darby Smotherman, a noted audio engineer and sound designer from the Boston Conservatory of Music. 

“We needed a polished pro for the sound,” Greene said. “These giant puppet monsters need to make noise if they’re going to seem realistic.” 

Costume designer Chris Lowey is another outsider who was brought in to help with world building. The seasoned professional was tasked with creating fierce looks for the show’s warrior characters. 

“She’s done a great job making our actors look battle-ready,” Greene said.

Though filled with pulse-pounding action, She Kills Monsters also has a lot of humor and heart. Shannon Labuza ’23, who plays Tilly, believes the play is about sisterhood. She has enjoyed working with Vezina to forge the bond that exists between Agnes and Tilly. 

“We are best friends in real life. Having such a strong connection has been helpful as we’ve built that sisterly relationship,” said the health science and performing arts double major from Burlington, Massachusetts. 

As Labuza, her fellow cast members and the crew continue preparing for opening night, Greene is excited to witness how the show comes together. The director believes audience members will take something positive away from the production, regardless of demographics.   

“A fun time will be had by all,” he said. “I think people will connect to this show on a lot of different levels, whether they’re young Stranger Things fans or older folks who understand all the 90s references. It’s going to be a good time full of music, fights and special effects. We hope the show will provide audiences with a bit of levity, something I think we could all use right now.” 

Event Information

The Stonehill Theatre Company’s production of "She Kills Monsters" will run from November 3 to 6 in the College’s Hemingway Theatre. For tickets and showtimes, please visit the link below.