The food edition of Native Tongues serves up a very satisfying tasting menu of monologues, reflections, humorous anecdotes and odes by writers including Cokie Roberts, Sheila Bosworth, Robert Olen Butler, Roy Blount Jr. and many others. The accessible common theme and litany of familiar local characters and references bind a diverse set of ingredients. Seated at lecterns, a cast of six delivers courses in sequence, but several more active dramatizations enliven some of the pieces. Andrea Frankle pours her heart into Catherine, the troubled soul in Bosworth's "Forbidden." The story offers an improbable balance of concerns between Catholic guilt and actual crime, but Frankle's raw emotional delivery makes it sizzle. In Butler's cryptically funny "My Three Husbands," Clare Moncrief dishes on three disappointing relationships and realizes food can be more satisfying than the pursuit of true love. And Moncrief animates a perpetually fussy and self-important Uptown socialite at Galatoire's in Brobson Lutz's fictional reimagining of the day a handgun hidden in a purse went off in the restaurant. It's not the brilliant social satire of The Galatoire's Monologues, but it has many similarly entertaining insights. A series of poems and odes rise above some over-cooked rhyme schemes, and Roy Blount's lyrical "Song to Okra" stands out thanks to the heartily gleeful delivery of Sam Malone. Chris Champagne's "You Ain't What You Eat" has the best punch line of the show, and roasts the notion of judging a person by dietary preference. Gambit editor Kevin Allman's humorous monologue "And That's ... Tasteful New Orleans" also cooks up a deliciously dark joke but is more outrageous in tone as it reviews reviewering. On the autobiographical front, Roberts and Suzanne Stouse's pieces offer insightful and amusing glimpses of their extended political family.
Not every recipe works. Malone's earnest delivery rescues "Cafe Food" from coming off as cliched. The food metaphor in "Turtle Soup at Mandina's" and menu of inside local jokes in "How Do You Get Into This Thing?" don't get the pieces beyond nostalgia for the food itself. It is hard to find a point of interest in "Neither Here Nor There." As a whole, the show has plenty for everybody, and Carl Walker and All Kinds of Theatre did a great job collecting diverse ingredients and blending their many flavors. — Will Coviello
Thru April 24
Native Tongues: The Food Edition
8 p.m. Thu.-Sat.; 6 p.m. Sun.
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlechatnoir.com
Tickets $29-$33 (includes $5 drink credit)