Mash up fairy tales, Mean Girls, and Pygmalion, then toss in a few more female archetypes and stereotypes, and you've got Death for Sydney Black. The play follows home-schooled ingénue Nancy (Leah DeWalt) as she attends her first high school and attempts to befriend or destroy Sydney Black (Callie Burk), queen of the cheer clique. A trio of other cheerleaders serves as a macabre chorus, outlining both the rules and travails of a woman's life. Jen, the quirky sidekick with "oddball interests and hidden artistic talents" is the narrator, played by Arianne Villareal with a wry sense of humor and a ukulele. Burk plays Sydney's boyfriend, too, and she nails it, mixing Bieber-like R&B crooning with hip-hop lite dance moves to demonstrate sensitivity with the ladies.
The play almost overwhelms with an onslaught of references, and at times the ideas and direction feel jumbled, with dialogue lost amid frenetic activity. It's also overlong, and devolves a bit into 1970s new-age mumbo jumbo, where it could have wrapped nicely by giving more time to the liberated Nancy, who realizes that she must be not only beautiful, rich, and successful, but also self-deprecating and edgy. But Leah Nanako Winkler's exploration of how women think of themselves, while bombarded by the perceptions and expectations of others, is worthwhile and often funny.Through Nov. 17 at Big Car Service Center