Much Ado about Nothing





Much Ado about Nothing


Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado about Nothing by Hector Berlioz and directed by Christine Brandes is an opera that is developed in two acts. It was produced with an aim of celebrating Bard’s 450th birthday. I watched the play at the Creative Arts Building, Little Theatre on April 26th at 2pm for a cost of $15 per seat. The audience was generally made up of opera enthusiasts and Shakespeare fans. Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado about Nothing features the lives of two main characters in the play namely Beatrice and Benedick. The title of the play illustrates the hostile reactions and treatment by Beatrice and Benedick towards each other despite their unrequited love for one another. Shakespeare provides a number of themes ranging from infidelity, deception, CUCKOLDRY and gender roles and expectations.

The play highlights gender roles as central to the functioning of the society. Beatrice and Benedick are characters who have generated a lot of interest among critics despite their relationship having lesser weight as compared to Claudio and Hero’s relationship. Their endless squabbles and cold treatment towards each other are some of the highlights of the play. Benedick illustrates the traditional gender roles assumed by men in terms of going to wars and initiating courtship whereas women are subject to inconstancy as illustrated in the play (Strong 33).

Section 2

The play has a running time that s approximately 2 hours 41 minutes. In essence, the play is considered as one of the best comedies ever written by Shakespeare. This is because the play includes elements such as hilarious scenes that are combined with issues such as shame, honor, and court politics. Furthermore, the play ends with a positive highlight with multiple marriages taking place and no deaths. The play is mainly written in prose form with the verse sections used as a means of achieving overall decorum in the writing.

The play focuses on two groups of lovers namely Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero. The two pairs illustrate contrasting views of love with Benedick and Beatrice in proclamation of their disdain towards love and marriage and especially for one another. In contrast, Claudio and Hero profess an undying love for one another as they opt to get married. Claudio and Hero provide an impetus for the entire play despite the focus shifting towards the relationship between Benedick and Beatrice.

Benedick and Beatrice provide the audience with a memorable understanding of true love. The two move from sheer antagonism to true and sincere love for one another. The play has all the qualities of a fine play such as, credibility and intrigue, speakability, stageability, and flow, richness, depth of characterization, gravity and pertinence, compression, economy, and intensity and celebration. The play enjoys celebration among literary enthusiasts given that it highlights the intensity of the couples’ love for one another.

Cuckoldry is a theme highlighted in this play by Shakespeare. In addition, the characters in the play seem to justify the fact that it is nearly impossible to know if a woman is cheating. This makes women to take advantage of such circumstances. Claudio is afraid of cuckoldry n which results in a tragic wedding scene at the first instance. The characters as per the six Aristotelian elements drive the themes of the play.

They provide the audience with a highly interesting view of love, marriage and possibilities of infidelity or cuckoldry as provided in the play. Beatrice and Benedick, and Claudio and Hero highlight the sensitivity of extra marital affairs and the potential towards destruction of marriages. The plot of the play resonates perfectly with the characters and their respective circumstances. The couple, Beatrice and Benedick is interesting for the audience as hey provide the rhythm of the play. They illustrate a tussle aimed at resonating with the title of the play Much Ado about Nothing given that they manage to develop a strong love for another despite their early disdain towards love and marriage.

Section 3

It was not possible to get the names of the actors, thus only the names of characters in the play were recognizable. In the first scene, Leonato, the governor of Messina together with his daughter and niece, hero and Beatrice enter the stage respectively in the company of a messenger. Leonato is provided with information of the arrival of Don Pedro in the company of his troops. Notable individuals in Don Pedro’s army include Claudio and Seignior Mountanto (Benedick). Claudio is praised highly for the role in the wars that their army has won. Leonato notes while he talks the messenger that, “There is a kind of merry war betwixt Seignior Benedick and her.” (Shakespeare 6). In the meanwhile, Benedick and Beatrice are engaged in an exchange of bitter words as they seek to illustrate that they are both immune to love.

            This forms an important part of the play given that provides an illustration of the love possessed by the two despite “much ado about nothing” (Shakespeare 6). They possess similar stances towards love and marriage despite both suffering from the effects of unrequited love. The characters are skilled in displaying the emotions that are expected for the scene towards illustration of unrequited love for one another.

Benedick continues to illicit his negative views towards love and marriage in a conversation with Claudio. They are engaged in a debate on Hero’s beauty and glory with Benedick teasing Claudio that, “”too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise and too little for a great praise.” (Shakespeare 14). Benedick illustrates a deep disdain for marriage by accusing Claudio of his intent to “turn husband”(Shakespeare 14).

However, Don Pedro is of the belief that Hero and Claudio are a perfect match for one another. Don Pedro claims that he hopes to see Benedick fall in love by stating that, “”I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.” (Shakespeare 17). Benedick strongly denies that he will ever live to see such a thing happen. At the ball, Beatrice replies to Antonio’s comments that “grieve a woman to be overmastered with a piece of valiant dust” given that Antonio claims that she is “too curst” to be married. From the statements provided, it is evident that both Beatrice and Benedick have “much ado about nothing” due to their negative stances towards love and marriage yet they both have feelings for one another. The unrequited love that they are experiencing drives them towards the negative stances that they hold towards love.

The director and the cast of the play had a common vision and goal for the play, which enabled them to understand the expectations of one another. The themes of the play, the emotions exhibited by the characters and expectations from the audience are among some of the influences that determined the direction of the play (Kincman 27).

Section 4

The stage format of the theatre is a proscenium stage design that provides an audience with an upward view of the stage and performers during the play. Given that it is a modern theatre, it may also be termed as a thrust stage due to the lack of a fourth wall, which provides visibility to all audience in the theatre. The stage was preferable for the play given that the cast of the play only focused in one direction. The costumes used resonate with the time of setting of play, which dates back to the 18th and 17th century. The attire used by the cast illustrates a period that was governed by monarchial systems rather than democratic systems. Traditional attire during the plays written by Shakespeare was usually decorated with embroidery patterns and braids. Men’s clothing were similar to those women in some aspects such as embroidery and laden with ornaments. Men wore hats indoors, which were replicated in the play by the male characters towards illustration of class and social status.

The clothing used by the cast and the setting of the play highlight the vitality of the period of setting of this play (Holloway 19). The characters in the play namely the prince Don Pedro, Leonato the governor, and other high status individuals such as Beatrice, Benedick and Claudio are dressed in colorful clothes or costumes with an aim of signification of their respective social statuses. On the other hand, other individuals such as Don John “the bastard”, messengers, and other workers are dressed in dull and seemingly cheap clothing as a means of illustrating their low social statuses. The lights moved appropriately from one character to another with an aim of resonating and abetting the theme and mood the different scenes of the play (Collins and Nisbet 23).

Section 5

Much Ado About nothing provides the audience with an understanding of the potential of infidelity and cuckoldry towards destruction of marriages. The play is effective in highlighting that most marriages and relationship start based on unrequited love as individuals begin to understand one another. The comical relief provided by this play was effective in that it shifts from sheer antagonism to undying love between the two protagonists, Benedick and Beatrice.

In conclusion, Shakespeare was driven to highlight issues that were persistent during his time which include infidelity, cuckoldry, illegitimate children and their relationships with their families, and deception in society. In addition, the play was effective towards enhancing individual understanding of the efforts of directors and producers of operas and plays in theatres.

Work Cited:

Collins, Jane, and Andrew Nisbet. Theatre and Performance Design: A Reader in Scenography. London: Routledge, 2010. Print.

Holloway, John. Illustrated Theatre Production Guide. Burlington, MA: Focal Press/Elsevier, 2010. Print.

Kincman, Laurie. The Stage Manager’s Toolkit: Templates and Communication Techniques to Guide Your Theatre Production from First Meeting to Final Performance. 2013. Print.

Shakespeare, William, Jonathan Bate, and Eric Rasmussen. Much Ado about Nothing. New York, NY: Modern Library, 2009. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Much Ado about Nothing. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. Print.

Strong, Judith. Theatre Buildings: A Design Guide. Abingdon, Oxon [England: Routledge, 2010. Print.

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