Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Directed by Conny Loder & John Yates, produced by Ken Lawler & Peter Heinz
Performance dates 7—11 & 14—18 July 2021, 7.00pm. Entrance is free of charge and on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6.15pm, arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare, thought to have been written in 1598/99. The first recorded performance was in 1612 at the English royal court, preceding the festivities celebrating the marriage of James I’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, to Frederick V, Elector Palatine of the Rhine: Much Ado About Nothing was one of 27 plays performed during these festivities.
Shakespeare’s sources for the plot around Hero and Claudio are taken from Matteo Bandello’s Novelle (from which Shakespeare also drew the story of Romeo & Juliet). Dogberry and his Watchmen, as well as the story surrounding Beatrice and Benedick, are Shakespeare’s own invention.
The play’s title offers puns on “no-thing” and “noting”, both of which are fundamental elements that drive the plot. It is through “noting” gossip and rumour that characters are deceived. The characters’ ability, or lack thereof, to distinguish seeming from being becomes a central theme in this comedy.
In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare returns to motifs that had already proven successful in previous plays. These include malapropisms, i.e. the incorrect use of words (Love’s Labours Lost), overhearing and being tricked (Midsummer Night’s Dream), the Machiavellian malcontent (Richard III), and living a merry life in the countryside (Merry Wives of Windsor).
In Messina, the landed gentry around Leonato and Antonio await the end of the war between Don Pedro and his vicious brother, Don John. When Don Pedro returns victorious to Messina, he brings home with him not only the confirmed bachelor, Benedick, but also the eligible young Claudio.
Claudio and Hero, Leonato’s daughter, fall instantly in love with each other and plan an imminent wedding; meanwhile, Leonato’s niece Beatrice resumes her love-hate relationship with Benedick, trading insults.
Don Pedro is intent on tricking Benedick and Beatrice into publicly confessing their love for each other. At the same time, a bitter Don John and his followers, Borachio and Conrade, deceive Claudio by denouncing Hero as unchaste.
At the altar, Claudio refuses to marry Hero and the party disperses, many believing Hero to have died from the slanderous attack.
Dogberry and his Watchmen are sent to investigate. And, since this is a comedy, the truth is brought to light and there will be a wedding after all. But who will be the bride?
Sara Brandt (Beatrice), David Viita (Benedick), Silvia Catalyud Gil (Hero), Alexandra Krienke (Claudio), Stefan Füssel (Don Pedro), Adriana Green (Don John), David Hall (Antonio), Jim Nellis (Leonato), John Yates (Dogberrry), Jennifer Mikulla (Verges), Brianna Goins (Conrade), Elizabeth Goetze (Borachio), Helen Schulz (Balthasar), AC Mettenheimer (Sexton), Kerry Wake-Dyster (Otecake), Blair Gaulton (Seacoal), Vaishak Raju (Elbow), Clodagh Gould (Ursula), Sophie Cretaine (Margaret), Shreyas Bettadapura Raghavendra (Friar Francis), Susan Kelly (Theobald), Claire Middleton (Lady in Waiting to Hero), Ladan Shahlaei (Lady in Waiting to Hero)