A-Z Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing

“Patch grief with proverbs.”

William Shakespeare

I interrupt this scheduled Shakespeare post to broadcast my (possibly unshared) excitement over the fact that North Korea has agreed to show Doctor Who on state TV. Any show better to break a dictatorship I cannot imagine, not because it tells people to bring down the government but because it encourages original thought and compassion and general awesomeness and perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but letting in science fiction cannot be a bad thing.

Anyway. Much Ado About Nothing.

Awesomeness: 9/10

Because…Benedick and Beatrice. Dogberry and the Watch. And a happy ending.

Colour: Gold

Date: 1598/9

Events: Don Pedro the prince defeats half-brother Don John in war. Don John is angry, so conspires to sabotage wedding of Don Pedro’s friend Claudio to Hero by claiming, and appearing to prove by swapping Hero for servant Margaret, unfaithfulness. As a result, Claudio spurns Hero at the altar, she faints, her angry friends pretend she is dead to make everyone sorry. The Watch overhear Don John’s co-conspirators discussing the deception and arrest them; the deception comes to light, Don John flees, Claudio and Hero marry. Meanwhile, the prince and his friends conspire themselves to trick Benedick and Beatrice, whose favourite mutual occupation is “a sort of merry war”, into confessing their mutual love and marrying.

First line: “I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina.”

Genre: Comedy

High point: The fraught marriage-scene at the beginning of Act 4.

Interesting fact: Dogberry reminds me somewhat of Nobby Nobbs of the Discworld series.

Joke: “He is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! if he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cured.

Killed: Hero, but only temporarily.

Laughed at: Dogberry and his incompetent Watch.

Musical: Yes. Balthasar, servant to Don Pedro, sings, albeit badly.

Number of scenes: 17, spread over 5 acts.

Obscurity: 5/10

Place: Sicily

Quote: “Every one can master a grief, but he that has it.”

Role I’d play: Beatrice.

Stolen from again, nowhere in particular; the Hero/Claudio plotline is an old one, and Benedick and Beatrice’s story appears to be Shakespeare’s own invention.

Time: Around Shakespeare’s.

Unapologetically…light-hearted.

Voiced in my head by: Jim Carrey as Benedick. Why? I don’t know.

Would I see it in a theatre? Yes.

X: The Tenth Line: “I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio.”

“Yes? Hello? What?” (The Snappy Quip): “Comparisons are odorous.”

Z: The Last Line: “Strike up, pipers.”

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