Arts & Entertainment

D&D Comes to Life in MC Players Production of “She Kills Monsters”

by Lauren Schuster, Senior Writer

In the latest Manhattan College Players’ production “She Kills Monsters,” the popular fantasy role-play game “Dungeons and Dragons” (D&D) comes to life on stage bringing unexpected revelations for young school teacher Agnes Evans, played by Megan Lawlor. Agnes’ life was extremely average until one day her parents and her teenage sister Tilly, played by Madeline Byrne, die suddenly in a car crash. Realizing that she never took the time to get to know her little sister properly, Agnes decides to play a Dungeons and Drag-
ons module that she found scribbled in one of Tilly’s note-
books while packing up her bedroom.

“[Agnes] is just trying to pick up the pieces after her entire family dies in a very tragic car crash and she spends the whole show trying to get to know her sister because she
couldn’t do it while she was alive,” Lawlor said. “She realizes what she missed out on while Tilly was alive and she does her best to get to know her as well as she possibly can, and I think her willingness to immerse herself in this ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ world
which is so foreign to her and really submit to the experience, that’s really cool.”

During Agnes’ D&D adventure, she discovers the characters that Tilly has created to accompany them. The character Lilith, played by Caroline Shea, is based on Tilly’s real life friend Lilly and is Tilly’s girlfriend in the game. It is not until Agnes discovers
this that she realizes her sister never got the chance to come out to her as a lesbian when she was alive.

Agnes, played by Megan Lawlor, does not understand her sister, Tilly, played by Madeline Byrne, at the beginning of the play but comes to know her through her D&D module. EMILY HOLLAR/THE QUADRANGLE

“[Tilly] is 15, she died when she was 15 and she was a huge D&D nerd, and she was a closeted lesbian and her sister had no clue,” Byrne said. “Basically, Tilly is super duper fiery, super duper good at what she does, but very unwilling to let Agnes in.”

Lilith’s character is a leather-clad demon queen who knows her way around any whip or
axe she can get her hands on. For Shea, who not only plays the character of Lilith, but also served as the show’s fight choreographer, this meant lots of fun fight scenes.

“[My favorite part about my character is] the axe, because also, as fight choreographer, I
was really happy that I got to play with an axe,” Shea said. “It was my favorite weapon of the show so I was really glad that I got that character, and also she’s just very honest, she’s brutally honest.”

Nicholas Chiofalo plays Chuck, a high school student who serves as Agnes’ Dungeon Master. EMILY HOLLAR/THE QUADRANGLE

As self-described “nerds,” many of the cast members were already familiar with D&D before the show, so bringing it to life on stage was all the more fun for them.

“I’ve been playing [D&D] since sixth grade,” Byrne said. “I think that [in the show]
they’re doing AD&D, that’s what my dad played, and my dad taught me on that system
and then I did first addition and second addition and three point five and then five so I have a lot of weird knowledge, and I’m not even going to lie, some of it I’m like ‘that’s a little inaccurate but we’re just going to let it slide, it’s okay.’ But it’s really fun, I knew a lot about D&D though so it was kind of nice knowing that the show was about D&D.”

Shea was certainly no stranger to the magical world of Dungeons and Dragons either.

“I knew a lot [about D&D],” Shea said. “I’ve also done this show before, I’ve been in the
show and I’ve choreographed the show before, and I was a nerd as a child, so I played
D&D.”

Caroline Shea, as Lilith, Madeline Byrne, as Tilly, and Maria Summerville, as Kaliope, serve as the show’s leading close-knit team of adventurers. EMILY HOLLAR/THE QUADRANGLE

“Honestly, as much as I love D&D, I’ve only been playing Dungeons and Dragons for about a year and a half now,” Lawlor said. “It was kind of only natural that I started playing D&D because I love all that nerdy stuff, but I’ve been playing for a little while so I had a good background, but it was also really cool to see Maddie, who plays Tilly, she knows so much about D&D. It was really cool to kind of have that mix of people, like Maria knew nothing, Maddie knew everything and I was like ‘I know a little bit,While Lawlor does have a great love for D&D, she would not consider herself to be quite
as much of an expert as some of her cast mates.

I can kind of help, but I’m really excited about it.’ So, it was cool to have a mix of experience with D&D.”

For Lawlor, there were many different reasons to love the show.

“I love doing shows with Players, I’ve been doing them, it’s my last play that I’m going to do with Players, so I’m emotional,” Lawlor said. “But I think this show in particular, the way that it addresses queer issues, with Tilly coming out to her sister, after she died, but also it’s just a fun show about D&D that makes fun of it, but in a loving way. You know, when you hear people talk about nerdy things it’s always like ‘yeah roast those guys,’ but this show takes a really loving hand to the world of geekery and really embraces that, and as a huge nerd who loves Dungeons and Dragons myself, it was only natural.”

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