Hero and Claudio are falling in love, but aren’t a strong enough pairing to outplay the scheming Don John. Meanwhile, old sparring partners Beatrice and Benedick revel in their war of words, but neither wants to get married and certainly not to each other. As they take up opposing corners, matching each other line for line, their friends team up to plot a way to bring them together.
For this cast of players, it’s a game of five acts.
Filled with live music, a line up of vibrant characters and sparkling dialogue, this is Shakespeare’s comedic skill at its absolute best. As devious strategies are prepared, sides drawn and redrawn, and untruth after untruth exposed, the outcome of each romantic match is just too close to call at least until the final hand has been shown.
The real joy of Much Ado About Nothing is that the play seems to exist within its own unique, hermetically sealed world, uniting the dichotomy usually found in Shakesperean comedy between the regulated city and the free-play of the forest – so, for example, in As You Like It between the french court and the forest of Arden, or in A Midsummer Night’s Dream between the palace of Theseus and the woodland of the fairies.
In Much Ado About Nothing there is only Messina and its inhabitants – and so the plot, no matter how far fetched it may seem today, has to be made to feel very human. Much Ado About Nothing is also the most prosaic of Shakespeare’s plays and as a result the language feels very contemporary, very fresh. Bearing this in mind, for our production we’ve focused on trying to imagine a world which both makes sense of the play and makes sense for our audience. The result is a European holiday villa, where the pace of life slows, the wine flows and a spirit of fun prevails. The phrase ’it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt’ springs to mind, but in Much Ado About Nothing without the city to return to it’s up to the characters to pick up the pieces. It’s this blending of the comedic with the serious, of the action with consequence, that makes Much Ado About Nothing such a rich and rewarding play to work with.