Dungeons and Dragons Downtown: She Kills Monsters Premieres at Theatre Downtown
Game night just got real. When Agnes Evans opens her deceased sister’s Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) manual she is thrust into an epic journey toward self-reliance pitted against homicidal fairies, gnarly ogres and, of course, dragons.
Since Theatre Downtown posted auditions for the Alabama premiere of Qui Nguyen’s dramatic comedy She Kills Monsters on May 24, the Birmingham theater community has been awaiting performances with exhilarated curiosity. Now, opening July 30, audiences will roll the dice with Agnes to find their place alongside other barbarians, halflings and elves.
“Acclaimed young playwright Qui Nguyen offers a heart-pounding homage to the geek and warrior within us all,” the Samuel French website said.
While D&D was once considered an intrinsically male-dominated pen and paper roleplaying game, Nguyen — a self-proclaimed super nerd — like The Dungeonmasters documentarian Keven McAlester, turns the focus to the strong force of female Player Characters, LARPers and cosplayers that call the fantasy and sci-fi genres home.
RPGs, far from being a boys club of knights in shining armor saving hapless princesses, allow men and women alike to try on unlimited alternate personas: What if you had unlimited power? What if you held the fate of the world in your hands? What if your living room was the den of an assassins’ guild or the pit of a greedy leviathan? What if you knew the formula for death or loyalty or love?
Besides indulging in alter-egos, the friendships that emerge from sharing the alternate universe of the game are legendary, as Agnes discovers throughout the course of the play.
The New York Times reviewed She Kills Monsters as “[d]eceptively breezy and rather ingenious. The whole enterprise is kind of dopey and kind of invigorating and kind of remarkable. It will slash and shapeshift its way into your heart.”
She Kills Monsters premiers on July 30 at Theatre Downtown, 2410 Fifth Avenue South, and runs through Aug. 15 Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17. For more information, visit theatredowntown.org.
THURSDAY, JULY 23
Peter and the Starcatcher — Birmingham Festival Theatre. 1901 11th Ave. S. Rick Elice’s grown-up prequel to J.M. Barry’s Peter Pan challenges the classic story about the Boy Who Never Grew Up, and marks the tenth season of the Magic City’s only professional Actor’s Equity Association theatre. Birmingham’s City Equity Theatre’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher is the Alabama premiere of five-time Tony Award winning musical. Wednesday–Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Through Aug. 16. For more information, call (205) 500-2701
Sordid Lives — Terrific New Theatre. 2821 Second Ave. S. Del Shores’ original comedy comes to life on stage courtesy of the Terrific New Theatre Players. Ingram family matriarch Peggy has passed on, but her funeral brings out the best and worst in her neighbors and loved ones across three generations. Thursday–Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Through Aug. 15. $25. For more information, visit terrificnewtheatre.com.
FRIDAY, JULY 24
Jurassic Garden — Birmingham Botanical Gardens. 2612 Lane Park Rd. Plant Adventure Program specialist Brooke McMinn will lead participants on a garden walk to explore the prehistoric plants of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Attendees will learn about Alabama plants from the Paleozoic to the Mesozoic era and their modern relatives. Afterward, the BBG’s collection of fossilized prehistoric plants will be open for viewing. 9:30–10:30 a.m. $15. For more information, visit bbgardens.org.
Alabama Theatre Summer Film Series — Alabama Theatre. 1817 Third Avenue N. Every Friday and Sunday from June through August, the “Showplace of the South” will screen a different audience-favorite. This week, see Pulp Fiction, Singin’ in the Rain, The Breakfast Club and The General. Fridays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. $8. For the summer’s full lineup, visit alabamatheatre.com.
Dealt a Deadly Hand — Comedy Club Stardome. 1818 Data Dr., Hoover. Stardome Comedy Club and Wood Manor Productions unveil a mystery dinner show that spoofs the classic Casablanca and the American dream of winning the jackpot. Dealt a Deadly Hand: Murder at the Pocono Royale Casino, takes place at the first legal gambling casino in the Poconos where danger, and ex-wives, await in every corner. Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. $44.50. For more information, call (205) 444-0008.
SATURDAY, JULY 25
On the Road: Stories About Travel — Avon Theatre. 2829 Seventh Ave. S. Arc Stories (formerly Arc Light Stories) returns this month with a new name and a new topic. The live storytelling event will feature accumulated tales about travel, literal and metaphorical journeys shared by local storytellers before an audience. 7:30 p.m. $10. For more information, visit arcstories.com.
MONDAY, JULY 27
Thinking Man’s Trivia — Rogue Tavern. 2312 2nd Ave. N. Josh Rutsky hosts Birmingham’s hardest trivia game each Monday night at Rogue, featuring challenging questions, friendly service and a great on-tap beer selection, plus inappropriate team names sure to earn their creators a spot in the fiery pits of hell. (Note: thinking women also welcome.) 8:30 p.m. Free. For more information, visit Thinking Man’s Trivia on Facebook.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 29
Iron Cinema: The Rocky Horror Picture Show — Iron City. 513 22nd St. S. Iron Cinema’s Summer Film Series “Cults, Classics and Comedies” continues with the 1975 science-fiction musical spectacular The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Before the screening, attendees may taste craft beers and spirits or order from a special dinner-theater menu. Door prizes will be awarded for best costume. Free. 7 p.m. For more information, call (205) 202-5483.
THURSDAY, JULY 30
Shrek The Musical — Virginia Samford Theatre. 1116 26th St. S. The Virginia Samford Theatre STARS (Students Take a Role at the Samford) present the Disney smash-hit, Shrek, about an ogre tasked with rescuing a damsel not so in distress. Fairy tales are flipped on their head in Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire and Tony Award nominee Jeanine Tesori’s Shrek. Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Through August 8. $25. For more information, visit virginiasamfordtheatre.org.
Into the Woods — Leeds Theatre and Arts Center. 8140 Parkway Dr., Leeds. Stephen Sondheim’s enchanting musical trips down the path of fairy tale characters as they bump into one another, challenge their fate, go toe-to-toe with giants and allow the audience a glimpse into the real lives of beloved characters: Snow White, Rapunzel, Prince Charming, Jack (of beanstalk fame) and the witch. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. and Sunday July 26, 2 p.m. $15. For more information, visit leedsartscouncil.org.
Mary Poppins — Dorothy Jemison Day Theater. 800 19th St. N. The Banks children need a new nanny. Enter: Mary Poppins, an inspiring, magical sitter with an unlimited imagination for fun and problem solving. The charming, musical has won audiences since its debut. Tuesday–Saturday 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m. Through Aug. 2. For more information, call (205) 490-2345.