Much Ado About Nothing
Edinburgh University Shakespeare Company
theSpace @ Niddry St
Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare often done and favoured plays.
Don Pedro and his group of war weary soldiers find themselves in the household of Leonato, Govenor of Messina. While young Claudio falls in love with the daughter, Hero, Benedick spars familiarly with her cousin, Beatrice.
A quick marriage between Claudio and Hero is foiled by scandal. Don Pedro’s sister, for mischief’s sake, has plotted to have Claudio spy a tryst between Hero and Borachio. But it’s not Hero but Margaret.
At the wedding, Claudio denies Hero and she dies of the rebuff and shame. But she’s not really dead.
Beatrice and Benedick get involved in solving the mystery and discover their love for each other as a benefit. Benedick takes on Beatrice challenge to do harm to Claudio. And like a drunken brawler he cold-cocks Claudio.
Claudio for shame and true love for Hero agrees to marry a cousin. In Shakespeare's play, he will not be able to set eyes on her until the marriage is completed. This is glazed over, misrepresented or omitted by the play's disjointed cutting.
This cast of Much Ado About Nothing is probably very good. They have all constructed characters that work.
But the direction which moves back and forth between Shakespearean and modern action and more specifically the cutting leaves out portions thus leading to a very confused ending. Shakespeare, in most of his comedies, has multiple plots going on at the same time and criss-crossing to move plots along.
When cutting his very long plays to fit into a 60- to 90-minute timeframe, it’s important to make sure you patch all the holes.