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BEHIND THE SCENES / ORANGE COUNTY

Bard None

July 17, 1997

Want to compete in a Shakespeare contest but don't know your Ides of March from iambic pentameter?

No problem. Forget brushing up on your English literature and start brushing up on your cooking.

Through July 27, the South Orange County Community Theatre is having a "prettiest picnic" contest tied to its "Shakespeare by the Sea" series.

Before a performance of "The Comedy of Errors" Saturday, theater-goers gathered on the lawn at Historic Town Center Park in downtown San Juan Capistrano for a little grub and gruel. The picnics ranged from takeout burgers to elegant cuisine served on fine china.

For each of the play's nine performances, play director Tom Scott will award a first-place prize--a season ticket to next year's shows.

"The intent was to get people involved in enjoying the outdoor show, but we find the competition is fierce," Scott says. "The show is set in ancient Ephesus, and theme picnics get extra points."

Wry punsters may go heavy on the turkey (the anient Greek city is near what is now Izmir, Turkey), but purists like to show off their knowledge of the play and its food references by displaying capons, breads and dried fruits.

"So far no one's roasted a pig on a spit, but one winner had a very nice 1986 Cabernet," Scott says. "And at the end of the entry form I do state that the judge is bribable."

The first place award Saturday went to Ed and Doris Adams of Monarch Beach, who joined two other couples in providing a feast complete with linens, glasses, silverware and a bouquet of flowers.

* "The Comedy of Errors" runs Friday through Sunday. For information, call (714) 489-8082.

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