With comical performances and a modern-day twist on the Shakespearean voice, Bon Ton Roulet at the Shakespeare Cafe is a high-energy, engaging show set in New Orleans during the liveliest time of year, Mardi Gras. The cast balances hilarity and wackiness throughout with their quick inventive rhymes, sparkly costumes and songs. The play, written and directed by Portlander Elizabeth Huffman for Post5 Theatre as part of the annual Fertile Ground festival, takes place at a hip bar, with pink and blue couches dotting the space and Mardi Gras decor streaming from the ceiling. Narrator and vocalist Ursula (Ithica Tell)—dressed in a vivid purple dress and gold cap—leads the way.

Taylor McPhail


We meet the bar’s regulars, including Will and his French lover Julia. Bartender Pym, meanwhile, is hopelessly in love with Ursula, while she doesn’t seem to think anything of it. And then there are couples from Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing’s warring Beatrice and Benedict, and As You Like It’s hopeless romantics, Orlando and Rosalind. The latter couple, played by Kristopher Mahoney-Watson and Chantal DeGroat, steals the show: As Orlando writes love poems about Rosalind, little does he know that she is equally in love with him. To uncover his motives, she disguises herself for some “man talk.” Adopting a deep, scratchy voice and donning a fedora, she finds out his truth—and sends the audience roaring with laughter.

The Elizabethan language—much of it drawn directly from Shakespeare—takes some getting used to, but after about 10 minutes, it’s as easy to follow as the rest of this thoroughly entertaining and frequently hilarious show.

GO: Bon Ton Roulet at the Shakespeare Cafe is at Milepost 5, 850 NE 81st Ave., 971-258-8584. 7 pm Thursdays-Sundays through Feb. 9. $10. More info here.