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'The Importance of Being Earnest' is this year's comedy. It is free and something the whole family will enjoy.

COURTESY PHOTO - Masque Alfresco will present The Importance of Being Earnest on the lawn in front of the iron foundry at George Rogers Park Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. July 19 through Aug. 4. This is free, family entertainment. Pictured are from left Blaine Vincent, Fayra Teeters, Thomas McAuley, in front from left Heather Bach and Kaitlynn Baugh.

Masque Alfresco, the Portland theater group presenting commedia dell' arte since 2002, will present "The Importance of Being Earnest" July 19 through Aug. 4 at George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego.

Performances will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings on the lawn in front of the iron foundry in the park's lower level.

"The Importance of Being Earnest" is playwright Oscar Wilde's infamous satiric comedy. Masque Alfresco's Fayra Teeters has adapted the play as a British Music Hall Event, with songs, jokes and skits directed by Paul Roder.

Wilde was feuding with theatrical partners W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan as they wrote "Patience" as a parody of Wilde's aesthetic persona with their character Bunthorne. Wilde returned the parody by creating the Bunbury scam as Algernon's means of wiggling out of social obligations. Masque Alfresco goes one step further by parodying songs from "Patience" in this production of "The Importance of Being Earnest."

The play features slapstick antics, Victorian costumes, contemporary social-political jokes in a family-friendly outdoor setting. Be sure to bring lawn chairs, picnics and your funny bone to this free event.

Not unlike the current social-political landscape London in the 1890s was rife with scandal and social abuses. Anyone who spoke their truth or departed from the norm was subject to being branded a social outcast, especially Oscar Wilde. All of the characters in "Earnest" reflect the conflict between "inies" versus "outies" — with Jack Worthing the epitome of the social outcast, not even knowing who his parents are, yet daring to love Gwendolyn, the social darling equivalent to a million likes on Facebook. Her only requirement is for him to legally own the name Earnest, because it produces "vibrations."

— The Review, Tidings


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