CRITICS' PICK: ‘Empire Travel Agency’ Guides Adventurers on a New York Odyssey

…Gloriously inventive and appallingly fun. What this play does, perhaps better than any piece since Deborah Warner’s “Angel Project,” is use the city itself as a set...‘This trip,’ says one travel agent, is ‘a journey through the mysteries of the city to help you find more.’ Take it.

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No Space Too Dilapidated for a Show

Yet for the Woodshed Collective — an ambitious New York theater company with a commitment to low-budget, site-specific productions (past locations have included an empty swimming pool and a ship) — West-Park’s dilapidated state has been the answer to a prayer. Walking through a meeting room in the church, Gabriel Hainer Evansohn, one of the collective’s three artistic directors, ran his hand along a rip in the wall that revealed layers of faded paint. “Recreating this would be so expensive and difficult,” he said. “Actually it would be impossible.”

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Get Thee to a Pool, Girlfriend

Poor Ophelia was never given much of a chance to shine in “Hamlet,”… In “Twelve Ophelias“, a free summer show outdoors at the McCarren Park Pool, she finally gets her chance to speak her mind. The setting for this production, by the Woodshed Collective, is lovely, and the word “free” in front of “theater” is a wonderful thing – Passion is exchanged, (and) female empowerment is explored.

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Twisted Take on the Tragedy

The teeming hordes of tourists who descend on Manhattan in the summer rarely stray far from Times Square in search of theater. But there is plenty of stage activity in the other boroughs too. A whimsical riff on ”Hamlet” opens this week at an appropriately unusual site, the McCarren Park Pool in scruffy-hip Brooklyn. ”Twelve Ophelias,” by Caridad Svich, imagines an afterlife for Elsinore’s unluckiest lass. Ophelia pops out of the water, squeeze-dries her skirt, tosses aside the water-logged flowers and sets out for new adventures in a new world. Elsinore, you see, looks a lot like Appalachia in this twisted take on the tragedy. A bluegrass band, the Jones Street Boys, supplies an original score for this production from the Woodshed Collective, founded by Vassar alumni.

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