Thom Kaine
Clark Collis
June 13, 2012 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Empire (Stage)

Current Status
In Season
run date
Carrot Man, Moondog
Wayne Harrison

We gave it a B-

Some peculiar people are doing naughty things on a usually empty lot deep in Manhattan’s theater district — although, for once, there’s no reason to call the NYPD. The show Empire finds a succession of circus-type folk — including contortionists and a literal balancing act — performing inside a mirror-decorated pavilion called a ”spiegeltent.” Boasting a raunchy streak of humor, occasional flashes of both male and female nudity, and a vague theme of economic collapse, this enterprise clearly desires to present itself as an edgy alternative to Cirque du Soleil. Indeed, the latter is referenced early and disparagingly by the show’s foul-mouthed, tailcoated ringmaster (”There has to be a story now with circus because of that French-Canadian bulls—!”). Alas, Empire at times does resemble a low-budget Cirque, although not during the bit when cast members wonderfully, if unhygenically, spit chunks of banana into each other’s mouths and then out toward the audience. Forget the NYPD. Maybe someone should call the CDC. B?

(Tickets: or 800-432-7250)

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