Sunday, April 27, 2008

Review: Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare
crossposted at Educating Petunia

Ah, Shakespearean rapture! How pleasing is thy sound. How tantalising thy taste. How did I abide so long without thee?

I've just finished Much Ado About Nothing and again name Shakespeare the master. The wickedness of Don John; the nobility of Benedick; the purity of Hero; the redemption of Claudio. It is all too marvellous.

"How much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!"
Claudio, a young soldier just returned victorious from battle, falls in love with the virtuous Hero. His friend, Prince Don Pedro, woos her for him behind a mask at a ball, winning her hand but also giving the Prince's jealous and villainous brother, Don John, an opportunity to cause mischief. Meanwhile, Claudio's other devoted friend, Benedick, who has sworn off marriage and brags of his fortitude in avoiding the wiles of the fairer sex, is to be the butt of a joke; he is to be fooled into thinking Hero's cousin, Beatrice, a woman set against marriage as much as he, is secretly in love with him. Likewise, Beatrice is to believe that Benedick pines away for her. But while this young love is blossoming, there is a much more sinister scene being hatched.

This is most certainly a comedy but it also has some very dramatic moments. I must critique honestly, I was left a little dizzy from the abrupt switches from humour to drama and back to humour again. I loved it all but sometimes the jokes seemed out of place when hearts are being broken and death has intruded. It seems inappropriate to laugh at such times. But then one has to remember that this is a play, meant to be performed. There are pauses in between lines. There are intermissions here and there. It is not as abrupt as it is in written form.

"When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married."
My favorite character was Benedick. He is so confident in his views, even as they contradict from one moment to the next, but he recognises innocence despite the appearance of contrary evidence presented by questionable characters. And the idiotic Dogberry made me laugh out loud. "Oh that I had been writ down an ass!" Too funny.

I leave you with this piece of art I found depicting the most dramatic scene from the play, Hero's accusation. The line at the bottom is spoken by her father, Leonato.

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