Review: Empanada Loca

I was excited to see Daphne Rubin-Vega take on a one-woman show at the Labyrinth Theatre last night and I was not let down at all. She is a much better actress than she is a singer (years of performing Rent and The Rocky Horror Show will do that to you, I suppose).

It was my friend Steve’s first time seeing her live onstage and he was excessively excited. We took our front row seats and waited as the lights went down and DRV came out, in the darkness at first, and started speaking, presumably to us.

Empanada Loca was about a woman named Dolores who was living underneath the subways after what some would consider a challenging life. Her mother was shot, her father died, and then the drug dealer with whom she was in a relationship set her up and she went to prison for 13 years. Loca was inspired by the well-known tale of Sweeney Todd about the barber who would kill his enemies in the barber chair and Mrs. Lovett would bake the human flesh into pies. DRV was essentially a gritty, streetwise Mrs. Lovett, who killed people on her massage table (a trade she’d picked up in the tombs) in her apartment below Empanada Loca and the owner bakes the people into his empanadas. Read on for the twist ending….

The twist? The lights go down and you hear the sounds of her lunging forth at something, the person she’s been talking to. After lighting a trash can on fire, begins roasting a large rat. So, that’s who she’s been talking to the entire time – a rat. We were jolted, having thought she was talking to the audience the entire time. The audience is now aware that she is 100% so we’re left wondering, what was true about her story?

We’ll never know.

DRV really the audiences attention for the entire 100 minutes. This is really worth seeing should you have the chance to make it down to Bank Street. DRV came out rather quickly after the show, and we couldn’t help ourselves to a photo with her. She really is just the sweetest. Oh, and there was definitely a Rent fan there with a Rent t-shirt on which was much appreciated by DRV.

Just two kids who met when they were 11 in the Theatre chatroom on AOL because of a mutual love of Rent with Daphne Rubin Vega. We’re pretty sure our friendship peaked at that moment.