Play Review: Much Ado About Nothing

Play Review: Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Published by Penguin Classics on October 1, 2002
Genres: Humor
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

The action is set in Sicily, where Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, has recently defeated his half-brother, the bastard Don John, in a military engagement. Apparently reconciled, they return to the capital, Messina, as guests of the Governor, Leonato. There Count Claudio, a young nobleman serving in Don Pedro's army, falls in love with Hero, Leonato's daughter, whom Don Pedro woos on his behalf. The play's central plot shows how Don John maliciously deceives Claudio into believing that Hero has taken a lover on the eve of her marriage, causing Claudio to repudiate her publicly, at the altar.

My friend and I, being rather nerdy and unusual people, decided that the perfect way to conclude a night of beer drinking and pub food eating was to read Shakespeare aloud. The obvious play to begin with was Much Ado. The only way to read a play is to read it aloud, and there really should be different voices for different characters.

In our reading of the play, I realized just how much the play is inextricably linked with the movie version for me. My reading of certain characters totally stole from the actor’s interpretations, just as my friend’s did (especially the scene where Benedick talks funny while wearing a mask to find out what Beatrice really thinks of him). I also realized that, even though it has been a year or two since I watched the film, I can say with an exceedingly high rate of accuracy exactly which lines were and were not included in the movie.

Another thing I noticed that I had failed to pick up on before was that Beatrice and Benedick really are the main characters of the piece. I always assumed that Claudio and Hero were because all of the main ado was all about them. This assumption came from childhood, so I never reevaluated until just now. Now, I noticed how the play both begins and ends with discussion of Benedick and Beatrice, how many speeches Benedick has (more than Claudio does), and just how little Hero gets to speak. This was an obvious thing, but childhood assumptions can be difficult to overturn, because you inserted it in your brain as a Fact.

Much Ado About Nothing will always be one of my very favorite plays, Shakespeare or otherwise, even though Claudio (who was one of my first loves that I now rather regret…oh, Robert Sean Leonard’s lazy eye I failed to notice) is kind of a lame jerk. Beatrick (as their couple name would be) are seriously some of the best characters that ever were. I will always love them, especially because I picture Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh.

3 responses to “Play Review: Much Ado About Nothing”

  1. Heather says:

    Did you do this with our nerd friend, Jordan? haha. Epic idea. I love this play, too!

  2. Christina says:

    You got it in one! Why did this never happen in Pittsburgh when we would have had a full cast o’ characters? Haha!

  3. Heather says:

    Oh man, that would have been glorious! haha. We’ll have to get everyone together at some point in time and do just that.

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