Much Ado About Nothing Synopsis
In rehearsals we used multiple texts to guide our understanding of Shakespeare’s complex language. Only a Quarto version of Much Ado survives which means some lines are lost and different editors fill these in with their own views. We had a Norton Shakespeare, Penguin Classics and the RSC Complete works in the room to help. We stumbled across this brilliant video summary of the plot, which you might enjoy. Thanks to the Royal Shakespeare Company for letting us show this video. Warning – big spoiler alert!
The war has ended and Don Pedro’s army returns home to Italy. On their return journey, they stop in Messina, Sicily, to see old friends at the house of the Governor, Signior Leonato. Most of the house are happy to accept this impromptu visit as it will likely lead to a month of dinners and parties, however, Benedick and Beatrice are foes from way back and on the instant they see one another, their battle of wits resumes. There is one other foe who can’t abide to see the army and the household in such merriment and that is Don John, the bastard brother of the army’s leader and Prince of Arragon, Don Pedro. With the scheming Borachio as his aide, Don John looks for any opportunity to exercise his jealousy.
As the celebrations commence, the crush young Claudio has on Hero, daughter of Leonato, matures into a marriage proposal and the household look forward to celebrating the union. The air of love and merriment continues as Don Pedro sets a trap to bring the sparing Beatrice and Benedick together. Don John spies many opportunities to unravel these plans and strikes when he can.
Dogberry and Verges, master and mistress of malapropisms, clumsily prepare the household watch before the wedding and we learn just how successful our villains have been in undermining the intended union. Thankfully, however clumsy they may be, the watch manage to lock Borachio away but the damage has been done.
The undoing of one couple, all brought about by the lies of Don John, brings Beatrice and Benedick together but their relationship is tested when Beatrice asks Benedick to side with her over the wrongful shaming of Hero. The Friar lays out an elaborate plan to remedy all the ‘ado’ and the household agree to it.
Dogberry’s diligence saves the day. The villains are found out and our pair of couples reunite.
“All this amazement we can qualify
When after that this play you have but viewed”
The Royal Shakespeare Society produced this video to for a recent production of 'Much Ado'.
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