To rediscover the younger sister she lost to a tragic car accident, Agnes must embark on a quest into deepest, darkest geekdom in this action-packed, 90s-themed romp through the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons.
Director: Lance Gharavi
Assistant Director: Jamie Macpherson
Fight Choreographer: David Barker
Choreographer: Felix Cruz
Scenic Designer: Jesse Soper
Costume Designer: Mercedes O’Bannion
Lighting Designer: Cody Soper
Sound Designer: Steve Christensen
Media Designer: Michael Bateman
Puppet/Weapon Designer: Douglas Clarke
Stage Manager: Laura Winnemann
Agnes: Sarah Zorman
Tilly: Antoinette Martin-Hanson
Kaliope: Stephanie Hall
Lilith: Kyra Jackson
Chuck: Fargo Tbakhi
Orcus: Michael AlexanderJr.
Miles: Quinn Johnson
Vera: Jessica Cochrane
Narrator/Evil Gabbi: Karla Benitez Orellana
Evil Tina: Kara Quinn Ward-Tobin
Singer: Emily Adams
Monstrous Compendium: Emily Adams, Madison Berens, Sabrina Dahlmann, Javier Stefano De Vita, Bryan Hanlon, Audrey Pfeifer, Jililan Walker, Terrance Wimberly
It was a time before hanging chads and falling towers.
Monica still had her blue dress, Lauryn hadn’t begun marching to Zion. Torture was a thing other countries did. Much of the nation was fussing about one black man they hadn’t sent to prison. You didn’t ask, you didn’t tell.
It was a different time.
On the other hand, lots of people were disappointed in Clintons and Bushes. Arnold was back as the Terminator, dinosaurs were back from the Jurassic, and someone dressed like Iggy Azalea was also clueless. We were all stupid and contagious.
It wasn’t so different.
The year before, someone wrote in English: “Nostalgia assumes its full meaning.”
But this play isn’t about the 90s.
What if a roll of the dice determined whether you lived or died? What if it determined whether your loved ones lived or died?
Funny thing? It kinda does. That’s sort of how the world works.
This year, I watched someone I love die. There is nothing more real than death. It is an utterly implacable force. Larger and more unstoppable than the ocean. Nothing makes us feel more abjectly helpless and puny. When it comes, it comes. There are no rewrites, no do-overs, no appeals. Agnes, the protagonist of this play, loses her entire family in a moment. Through idiot chance, as though from a dice roll, all that she loves is gone forever.
Dungeons & Dragons has a lot of death in it. One of its main features involves dealing out death to evil minions, overlords, and beasties of all sorts. The better you get, the more equipped you are to bring gruesome, violent death to all who oppose you. Regardless of what indignities or humiliations you suffer in real life, in the D&D world you are powerful, respected, fearless, and feared.
In her grief, Agnes enters this fantasy realm where she must mete out death to others. Here, those who die are (almost) always “monster,” the ultimate other. It’s sexy and thrilling. There are friends and snacks.
Agnes copes with the abject [powerlessness she feels in the face of death by taking onto herself an imagined power over death, the power to control and unleash death upon others.
Dealing with death by dealing death.
And what a marvelous irony! How else to manage our feelings of utter helplessness in the teeth of that implacable reality thank to create fantasies of control? How else to weather the certainty of our ultimate powerlessness than to imagine ourselves heroically, stupendously, superhumanly powerful?
It is a profoundly human fantasy. “I’ve got the power.”
If only all our monsters could be vanquished with steel and sufficient courage.