She Kills Monsters: SPFHS Fall Play Shows True Talent in the Theater Program

McKenna Dwyer, Staff Writer

On Friday, Nov. 18, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School held the opening night for their fall play, “She Kills Monsters.” Three performances were held: 7:30 p.m. on opening night, 2 p.m. on Sat. Nov. 19, and 7:30 p.m. on Sat. Nov. 19.


The play stars 24-year-old Agnes Evans (sophomore Grace Bottomly), an English teacher at Athens High School in Athens, Ohio in 1995. The play immediately starts with the tragic death of Agnes’ high school-aged sister Tilly (senior Maya Handler), who was starkly different from her: Tilly was more into ‘nerdy’ stuff while Agnes was more into being popular and fitting in.


While going through her sister’s stuff, Agnes discovers a journal–which she later learns to be Tilly’s “Dungeons & Dragons” playbook. Agnes goes through a period of self-discovery and healing as she gets to understand her sister through her game and Tilly’s friends within the game: Lilith (senior Nanka Gelashvili), a Demon queen (aka the muscle of the group), Orcus (junior Christian Pastore), Former Overlord of the Underworld and couch potato, and Kaliope (junior Ashley Hoberman), an athletic Dark Elf. Agnes is led through the game by a dungeon master, who just so happens to be a freshman in high school. Chuck Biggs (freshman Paul Vlkovic) adds even more comedic relief to the play and adds into a playful dynamic with Agnes’ long time —and who her sister wishes were long gone— boyfriend Miles (senior Emmet Fynes). The audience also enjoyed the appearances of The Great Mage Steve, aka Steven (Cooper Pomponio) throughout the play, whether he was getting stabbed by Agnes or yelled at by his school counselor, Vera (senior Cara Argila).


The play was narrated by four hooded figures (Ash Mattos, Hunter Kother, Sofia Vanterpool, Mac Bastable). The main characters are stricken by evil throughout the play, in different forms such as Farrah the Faerie (Riley Vierschilling), Evil Tina (Morgan Ritter) and Evil Gabe (Gavin Lesnevich) and the Gelatinous Cube (Emmet Fynes). 


Throughout the play, background and supporting characters were played by the Ensemble (Riley Bhatia, Josie Berthold, Riley Boozer, Hannah Brodsky, Brendan Campion, Sofia Cervelli, Eboni Goodmen, Samantha Hale, Maggie Hayes, Arianne Henry, Arielle Henry, Connor Matulonis, Sarah Montero, Daniel Murphy, and Emma Telpis).


Especially deserving of a special shoutout are all of the students, school staff and parents that helped manage, create, and direct while working on the stage crew and production crew: Matthew Angulo, Peter Avagliano, RJ Crisafulli, Joss Coppock-Huegel, Emma Fang, Hannah Fox, Caleb Gruber, Tracey Hoberman, Keira Hoey, Lux Hoyos, Morgan Knight, Paul Mullarkey, Courtney Nemec, Emma Noriega, Evan Perrotta, Katie Romanyshyn, Amelia Savarese, Sami Savarese, Emma Schramm, Randi Sosny-Handler, Joanne Sprague and Kaelin Tricoche.


Sophomore Grace Bottomly, who was Belinda Cratchit in “A Christmas Caroland ensemble in “Les Misérables during last year’s theater productions, starred as Agnes in “She Kills Monsters.”


“Being the lead meant spending a lot more time and energy on the production overall, and so I had to think more carefully about how I spent my time and planned my schoolwork around it,” said Bottomly. “But it also meant spending more time with the other principals, most of whom I didn’t get to talk to much during my previous productions as an ensemble member. I really enjoyed that, each and every one of them are so incredibly skilled and are fantastic people.”


Bottomly performed incredibly during one of her first leading roles, and the audience was in awe during some of her emotionally-moving scenes.


“I was excited to see what [the play] was about since I didn’t know [much about the play] beforehand,” said sophomore Emily McCall. “I thought it was really good. I [hadn’t] seen Grace act in anything [before], so I was excited to see [how] she would do. I knew she was nervous about going for a lead role, but she did amazing and I could tell she worked really hard.”


The play dealt with heavy issues, such as family issues and homophobia, which was put on display when Tilly is ruthlessly bullied by cheerleaders that found out she was a lesbian.


“The topics referenced in She Kills Monsters are unfortunately not talked about enough,” said Bottomly. “LGBTQ+ people and their struggles are not represented properly in high-school theater, but this play is a step closer. It is especially important that we get to tell the story of Tilly in the same environment she experiences her bullying. It shows high-schoolers that they are seen, and they are not alone.”


Following the fall production, SPFHS students and staff alike look forward to the spring musical production of “The Drowsy Chaperone”, which held auditions recently.