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Much Ado About Nothing By William Shakespeare

4782 words - 19 pages

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing is a short play by Shakespeare, which has
comedy, romance, suspense and a lot of drama twisted into several
hundred lines of verse. The ending is happy, however, and little has
changed albeit two marriages. The play is important, not because of
its subject matter, but because it shows us that life itself is
similarly enjoyable and foolish - our lives are "much ado about
nothing".

The first thing an audience will find to enjoy in this light-hearted
comedy is the excellent stagecraft, which includes setting, costumes
and masks. Act II scene 1 from the 1993 production I saw, is an ideal
example of the type of stagecraft an audience would get ample
enjoyment out of.

As Act II scene 1 opens, the principal female characters, accompanied
by Leonato and his brother Antonio, enter a huge courtyard which is
part of Governor Leonato's estate. The whole courtyard is strung with
fairy lights, which, while illuminating the scene, also add a romantic
touch. The beautiful Italian sunset and lively fiddle music, played
mostly throughout the dialogue, capture the joyous atmosphere
perfectly.

In contrast to all the other females, Beatrice, Hero, Margaret and
Ursula are clothed in white dresses. This clearly identifies them to
the audience as the leading parts in the play. With the exception of
Leonato and Antonio, the leading male characters are clothed in black.
As the group saunter towards the centre of the courtyard, Beatrice
discusses her idea of the perfect man with the others - a happy medium
between Don John who is "too like an image and says nothing" and
Benedick who is "evermore tattling". She then adds jokingly to Leonato
"with a good foot and a good leg uncle, and money enough in his
purse". The audience would find this quite comical because Beatrice
has appeared so set against romance and marriage, yet she declares
that a man who possessed all these qualities would surely "win any
woman in the world". However, she then quickly adds "if a' could get
her good will" as if realising her mistake, for she has vowed never to
marry anyone.

This leads into a conversation about whether Beatrice will ever marry,
and Beatrice jests that she will not, for she likes neither men with
beards, proclaiming that "I could not endure a husband with a beard on
his face" nor men without beards, "what should I do with him, dress
him in my apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman?" This
conversation pursues, with Beatrice exasperating Leonato more and
more, until the masked revellers make their grand entrance.

The masks are the final and most important feature of the stagecraft.
They create the suspense element by disguising the wearer's true
identity, and this deception causes both amusement and problems. They
also...

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