June 2nd, 2010

teehee, haha

Audio Review: Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing (Arkangel Complete Shakespeare) Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Before I started listening to this series of Shakespeare plays on audio, I had feared that they'd be difficult to follow without the visual element. This hasn't proved to be a great problem, but I was a bit surprised to find Much Ado About Nothing more difficult in this respect than Richard III. Some of it is due to the extra effort required to follow Elizabethan wordplay, and some of it is that the characters in Much Ado About Nothing are less obliging about addressing each other by name at the beginning of each scene.

Most of the play revolves around the evil Don John's efforts to cause trouble by disrupting the marriage of Claudio to Hero, culminating in his convincing Claudio that Hero has been unfaithful to him with another man. Meanwhile, Don Pedro, Claudio, and Hero conspire to make the feuding Benedick and Beatrice fall in love with each other.

It's the Benedick/Beatrice plot that really makes this play stand out, mostly because Claudio is a bit of a jerk. Convinced that Hero has died of shame after he wrongly charged her with infidelity, he still has sufficient spirit to tease Benedick about his love life, and he rather meekly accepts Leonato's offer of a substitute marriage to a woman he's never met (who, of course, turns out to be Hero in disguise). It all turns out happily in the end, but I wouldn't have blamed Hero if she'd called the whole thing off.

Beatrice and Benedick, in contrast, are great fun. In the course of their sparring with each other, and trying to reconcile their feelings for each other with their previously firm intentions never to marry, they get all the best lines.

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