I find Much Ado About Nothing quite amusing. Some of the characters in the play sound phony. The high-intensity romance between Claudio and Hero comes across as especially phony to me. After all, most whirlwind romances come crashing to ground one day. The way Claudio and Hero express their love for each other betrays their state of delusion. Benedick and Beatrice, on the other hand, show more sense; although in the end they too are tricked into romance. But before they ended up this way, I liked their disdain for love and marriage.
I love the character of Constable Dogberry, especially his tendency to utter malapropisms. ‘Comparisons are odorous’ (odious) and ‘Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons’ (comprehended, suspicious). I find such wordplay swell and swanky. Don John, on the other hand, is a sinister character. I am happy he is captured in the end.
I have to say, the play by Shakespeare’s is very different to the play I watched with Sally. In the latter, the perform ace of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne blew me away. I would say Benedick and Beatrice display a sensibility that is very different to the modern play I saw with Sally. Much Ado About Nothing uses a flowery language with lots of poems thrown in. I think Phoebe would have loved those verses, and probably have noted them down in her diary. Even D.B. can learn a lot from Shakespeare. As it is, many of the screenplays written by D.B. are quite phony, as they are commercial Hollywood fare.
I learnt that Shakespeare stole some elements of the plot from an older Italian play. I hope that doesn’t make Shakespeare phony as well. Messina, the place where Much Ado About Nothing is set, is a busy little port on the island of Sicily, ruled at the time by Aragon. The grounds of Leonato’s Estate, where most the play unfolds, reminds me of the rye where all those children play. It made me imagine how joyfully children would have played around in the rye that is Leonato’s Estate, with me watching them over with hat in hand. Phoebe would have loved Leonato’s Estate.
Much Ado About Nothing is a play that is full of adult vices. There is infidelity, cuckoldry, deception, masking of identity, spying and overhearing. Only adults are capable of such ugly behavior. I can’t imagine children in the prep school ever developing such despicable adult behavior. These characters only go on to prove the purity and pristine innocence of childhood. It kills me to know that such things as innocence, spontaneity, kindness and generosity associated with the life of a child are lacking in the adults. This is true in the experiences so far in my life as well as the characters of Much Ado About Nothing.
Coming back to Benedick and Beatrice, I love their swell wit and superior intelligence for most of the play. I was a bit disappointed that they confess their love in the end. Although this is supposed to mean a happy ending to the play, I’d take it with a pinch of salt. Things like love and marriage that adults indulge in looks very phony to me.