Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s most-loved comedies! There are mistaken identities, a faked death, and all the characters deceive each other for their own ends. You’ll notice similarities to the events of Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew and Othello.
Sometimes the language and social conventions of Elizabethan England are baffling to us from a modern perspective. We unpack the plot of this classic play… without spoiling the ending!
A GATHERING IN MESSINA
The story begins at Leonato’s house in Messina in Sicily (Italy being a favourite location for Shakespeare’s plays). After winning a war, the Prince of Aragon, Don Pedro, and his followers Benedick, Borachio and Claudio visit Leonato, who is the Duke of Messina, father of Hero and uncle of Lady Beatrice.
Claudio quickly falls in love with Hero, his host’s daughter, and his marriage proposal is accepted. Benedick and Beatrice have both said they will never marry, but are known to banter and bicker every time they meet.
TRICKS AND SCHEMES
The Prince Don Pedro and the others plan to make Benedick and Beatrice fall in love, by making sure they both overhear people talking about their secret love for each other.
Donna Joanna, the Prince’s illegitimate sister and a hated villain, plots against the upcoming marriage of Hero and Claudio with his follower Borachio.
Claudio is made to believe that Hero is unfaithful on the night before her wedding day, but it’s actually her maid Margaret with Borachio.
WEDDING DAY DRAMA
During their wedding, Claudio condemns Hero in front of everyone for betraying him. She faints and on the advice of the Friar, who believes she is innocent, Leonato tells everyone that she has died from shock.
Beatrice asks Benedick to prove his love for her by killing Claudio for dishonouring her cousin. The bumbling constable Dogberry and his watchmen get involved, and as you might expect in a comedy, all the deception will eventually come to light and love will win the day.
CHARACTER LIST FOR MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon.
Donna Joanna, an illegitimate child and the sister of Don Pedro.
Conrade, one of Donna Joanna’s followers.
Borachio, one of Donna Joanna’s followers, a crafty drunkard.
Claudio, a Count in Don Pedro’s army.
Benedick, a bachelor serving in Don Pedro’s army.
Balthasar, an attendant of Don Pedro’s and a musician.
Leonato, the governor of Messina, father to Hero and uncle to Beatrice.
Antonia, the sister of Leonato.
Beatrice, Leonato’s orphaned niece who is against getting married.
Hero, Leonato’s daughter and less outspoken than Beatrice.
Friar Francis, he performs the wedding ceremony.
Dogberry, constable of the Watch for Messina.
Verges, Dogberry’s partner as commander of the Watch.
Margaret, Hero’s maid, witty and charming.
Ursula, another maid to Hero.
Oatcake, one of the local watchmen.
Seacole, a Sexton at the church.
OUR FAVOURITE QUOTES FROM MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Look out for these celebrated quotes and speeches in the play. Most of them are concerned with the trials and triumphs of love.
“I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.”
“No, and he were, I would burn my study.”
(Messenger and Beatrice, Act 1, Scene 1)
“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.”
(Beatrice, Act 1, Scene 1)
“When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.”
(Benedick, Act 2, Scene 3)
“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.”
(Balthasar, Act 2, Scene 3)
“Some Cupids kill with arrows, some with traps.”
(Hero, Act 3, Scene 1)
“I do love nothing in the world so well as you, is not that strange?”
(Benedick, Act 4, Scene 1)
“I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to protest.”
(Beatrice, Act 4, Scene 1)
“Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”
(Benedick, Act 5, Scene 2)
Sheffield Theatres’ production of Much Ado About Nothing with Ramps on the Moon is made to be accessible to everyone – not just in terms of the creative access, but in making this 400-year-old play fresh and easy to follow. You can expect parties, plots and plenty of misunderstandings.