Although it's set in 1995 and features elements of fantasy role-playing games, Grandview Heights High School's fall play presentation is likely to hit home for anyone who's ever been a high school student.
That includes the members of its cast, director April Olt said.
The school will present "She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition" Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 7-9.
"I think it's a play that our students really relate to because it's addressing the issues they experience every day," Olt said.
"It's a look at high school culture from the perspective of the outsider, the ones who didn't fit in," she said. "The main character in the play is a popular cheerleader whose sister is a freshman who is killed in a car accident. She finds what she thinks is her sister's diary, but is actually her Dungeons and Dragons notebook.
"She decides to explore her sister's imaginary world and ends up learning a lot about her sister and the challenges she faced, but also a lot about herself."
The play by Qui Nguyen addresses serious topics, including bullying, fitting in and identifying as gay or queer in the mid-1990s, Olt said.
"Those are issues people were dealing with in 1995, and students are still dealing with them today," she said.
The play's darkly comic but dramatic tone is somewhat similar to a 1980s John Hughes movie, such as "The Breakfast Club" or "Pretty in Pink," Olt said.
"She Kills Monsters" includes several fight scenes choreographed by Leland Leger.
"It's fun because we've never really done anything like that before in one of our shows," said senior Aidan Young. "I like the challenge of working out the choreography of a fight scene."
"The way Mr. Leger and April have staged it is we're doing the fight scenes kind of in slower motion to keep them simple," said senior Spencer Browning, who plays Chuck, the Dungeon Master.
"It looks realistic, but it's not so real that it's too violent," said senior Mary Beth Kauffman, who plays Vera and the Beholder.
"I like the balance of the two styles in the play," Browning said. "There's a lot of issues people will be able to relate to. It will resonate with a lot of people."
The fantastical elements of the play allow weighty issues to be addressed, "but in a way so that it's not too heavy for the audience," said senior Sally Hofmans-Currie, who plays Agnes, the cheerleader who explores her late sister's world.
The production contains adult themes, profanity and violence on the level of a PG-13 movie, Olt said.
Performances will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 7-9 in the auditorium at the high school, 1587 W. Third Ave.
Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased in advance at ghschools.org or at the door beginning at 6 p.m. each night. Student tickets are $1 for the Nov. 7 performance only.