New York | 1h 40m | Already closed

Empanada Loca

From 16 critic and 15 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Great writing, Absorbing, Intense, Edgy

About the show

Labyrinth Theater presents the world premiere of a new solo show starring Daphne Rubin-Vega, chronicling the story of woman who lives in an abandoned subway tunnel. More…

Drug dealer. Masseuse. Ex-con. Survivor. Dolores has led a life like no other. Now living deep under Manhattan in an abandoned subway tunnel, she has a story you won’t believe – or ever forget. Inspired by the legend of Sweeney Todd, Empanada Loca is a thrilling new play about an indomitable woman who knows that in this dog-eat-dog world only one rule matters: eat or be eaten.

1h 40m | Already closed | Bank Street Theatre (West Village)


"Daphne Rubin-Vega is completely captivating in a solo performance that requires her to sit perfectly still for most of its 100 minutes, looking straight out at the audience as she tells her weird and wonderful tale...With a kicker of a finish, 'Empanada Loca' is a terrifically creepy tale, with Daphne Rubin-Vega a macabre delight." Full Review


"Rubin-Vega dazzles from her first moments on stage...'Empanada Loca' is the exhilarating haunt you’ve been looking for. Good luck getting any sleep after viewing this exceptionally creepy piece of theater!" Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Leaving the theater at the end of 'Empanada Loca,' one feels emotionally drained. The experience of sitting in the dark theater (a very immersive scenic, sound and lighting presentation) listening to Rubin-Vega tell Dolores’ story is so alarmingly authentic that it takes quite some time to shake off the false notion that this horrible story really took place." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"It's to the credit of both Mark's enticing writing and Rubin-Vega's engaging portrayal that the show remains incredibly exciting throughout…Rubin-Vega is a captivating performer and it's a treat to watch her delve into Dolores and all her quirks in such an intimate venue…'Empanada Loca' is a delicious treat, and perfect for the season. Mark and team have created a production from which you can't hardly look away. Not that you'd want to anyway." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"If you're looking for a bedtime story guaranteed to keep you up far into the night, 'Empanada Loca' is the show for you. Aaron Mark's one-person drama is inspired by the legend of 'Sweeney Todd,' and it more than delivers on the famed story's grisly premise...There's a fifty-fifty chance that you'll leave the theater seriously contemplating turning vegan." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"The events depicted in 'Empanada Loca' are exaggerated and improbable, but Mr. Mark’s super-colloquial, vulgarity-riddled language, gives them the air of reality, an effect greatly amplified by Ms. Rubin-Vega’s totally committed, natural, and accessible performance." Full Review


"We can't tear ourselves away from her utterly transfixing story...Despite sounding innocuously like somewhere to have brunch in Hell's Kitchen, 'Empanada Loca' is a real hair-raiser. Anyone looking for a good fright won't want to miss it, but beware: This show is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach." Full Review

Time Out New York

"This spine-tingling and stomach-churning monologue is inspired by legend (Sweeney Todd), stars a Tony-nominated Broadway vet (Daphne Rubin-Vega) and slyly plays on NYC-specific fears, such as nefarious subway dwellers, class tensions and mystery meat...Mark's dialogue is unnervingly authentic, and Rubin-Vega masterfully delineates each character by shifting her accent and posture." Full Review


"There's little or no contrivance in 'Empanada Loca.' Everything appalling in the script is integrally related to Dolores's pathological demeanor. She's a character intricately yet efficiently developed by the insightful dramatist. Mark's script is all talk, but it's the most active talk imaginable. And while Dolores merely reminisces, Rubin-Vega makes those recollections vivid, dramatic, and scarily present tense." Full Review

As Her World Turns

"This one-woman play is riveting...I saw the third preview — with only about 10 other people in attendance; how luxurious to watch this story unfold in such an intimate way — and even that early on I was struck by how remarkable her performance is. There is no room for B.S. when a single actor talks to the audience at close range for 90 minutes. It is entrancing…see it before it closes on November 15th, or seek out a future run." Full Review

American Theater Web

"Directed by the playwright and featuring a riveting performance by Daphne Rubin-Vega, the show focuses on Dolores, a woman who has taken to living in the tunnels beneath the surface of Manhattan...Playwright Mark’s beautifully conceived and densely-packed text proves to be a playground for Rubin-Vega, who turns in a bravura performance." Full Review

Stage and Cinema

"Daphne Rubin-Vega delivers a riveting performance in 'Empanada Loca,' a sinewy one-woman show written and directed by Aaron Mark...The plot of 'Empanada Loca' is fairly straightforward, with smooth and steady escalation, few surprises, and little in the way of revelation. After our initial shock—once we get to the, let’s say, meat of the story—what keeps our attention isn’t so much the what but the how." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"A dark room with a few light bulbs is all it takes to send the audience of 'Empanada Loca' underground and into a massage room in an abandoned subway tunnel... 'Empanada Loca' is a real life horror story with a twist at the end. The play is a perfect lead up to Halloween. There is a tunnel, blood, animals and more than once the chance to burst out in laughter because of sudden splatter and sudden shock." Full Review

New York Theater

"It is more than half-way through the 100-minute show that things start turning…Sweeney Toddish. In one way, I would have loved to have had this play remain a regular New York story. But it is, as promised, a smart, scary adaptation of the 'Legend of Sweeney Todd...' A a play that is horrifying and also sometimes funny in its horror, and horrifying that it’s funny, and perverse and queasy and disgusting too. Perfect, in other words, for Halloween." Full Review

The New York Times

"Rubin-Vega seems to take on an almost feral quality that had me shivering all the way home. She gives a performance that’s as quietly mesmerizing as it is unsettling...Mr. Mark brings his characters alive in dialogue that bristles with vivid description, but writers are rarely the best directors of their work. Although he draws a marvelous performance from Ms. Rubin-Vega, 'Empanada' would be far more effective with some significant trimming." Full Review


"This being a solo performance it is amazing to see that Rubin-Vega’s attentiveness does not fade one degree during the entire show. She moves effortlessly between being Dolores to Luis to Dominic and back again, never causing confusion as to who she is at every moment, which is a credit to Mark’s direction...The other interesting point of the show is that while Dolores’s story could be labeled as a 'woe-is-me' tale, Dolores herself does not look at it this way." Full Review

Entertaining, Ambitious, Great writing, Great acting, Must see

See it if You want to see Daphne Rubin Vega in one of her most compelling and ambitious roles. Her one-woman performance is nothing short of amazing!

Don't see it if You do not like a take on "Sweeney Todd" or cannot appreciate quality theatre

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Must see, Original

See it if You are looking for something different and love a good story that is also well told.

Don't see it if You are just looking for something happy and entertaining without deepness.

Edgy, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if You want an engaging evening of brilliant acting in an intimate theatre.

Don't see it if You're easily disturbed.

Edgy, Original, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Funny

See it if you enjoy watching an astounding actress telling stories that draw you in and leave your head spinning with laughter and horror.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of the humorous macabre genre or if you are not patient with one-person shows.

Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Intense

See it if Dark, gripping, raw. Daphne Rubin-Vega.

Don't see it if Afraid of truth in dark places.

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Great writing, Intense

See it if you want to be transported--by powerful words and top-notch acting--to an intense, unfamiliar world. Vega is fantastic, as is the material.

Don't see it if you are easily unnerved. This play is very dark. Mostly about character and setting, there are themes about love and loss and survival.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging, Raunchy

See it if You love amazing acting - a true tour-de-force performance from Ms Rubin-Vega

Don't see it if You don't like one-person shows or didn't like Sweeney Todd

Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if Aaron Mark has concocted a thoroughly entertaining & horrifying edge or your seat thriller. Masterfully performed by Rubin-Vega.

Don't see it if If you dislike the story of Sweeney Todd, this might not be your cup of tea.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Riveting

See it if Rubin-Vega is spectacular. Mark is a consummate storyteller. Totally absorbing. Dark story with very funny undertones.

Don't see it if you don't like the story of Sweeney Todd or that kind of horror.

Dark, Resonant, Scary, Edgy, Unique

See it if Empanada Loca is a well written, directed and acted real life horror story with a twist at the end.

Don't see it if If you can't listen to bloody creepy events.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Original

See it if you like an engrossing, one-person show, or are a fan of Daphne Rubin-Vega.

Don't see it if you're not into using your imagination.

Great acting, Great writing, Slight, Scary, Compelling

See it if you want to see an AMAZING performance by Daphne Rubin-Vega in a very well-written solo show.

Don't see it if you want to see a show that sends you home thinking--it's basically a spooky story (a very well done spooky story, but not much to unpack).

Enchanting, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Must see

See it if You're captivated by great story telling & phenomenal acting!

Don't see it if A "one man" show isn't of interest.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Must see, Original

See it if you love great storytelling and great acting.

Don't see it if you prefer more flashy and showy theater.

During previews
Great acting, Original, Dark

See it if You'd like a 90 minute tour de force monologue by Rubin-Vega. Engrossing, but very dark (and darkly lit). Not a pleasant story.

Don't see it if You get spooked easily

Cast & Creatives (4)