Much Ado About Nothing
Leonato, his wife Antonia, their daughter Hero, and her cousin Beatrice welcome Don Pedro along with his company who arrive for an extended stay in the country following a decisive military campaign. Included among the returning war heroes are Claudio who catches the eye of Hero, and Benedick who reacquaints himself with Beatrice. Don Pedro agrees to arrange for Claudio's marriage before organizing a prank to make Benedick and Beatrice fall in love with one another.
The villainous Don John, brother to Don Pedro, is enticed by Borrachio to foil Hero's marriage. Don John brings Claudio to witness a passionate embrace between a silhouetted man and woman and believing it is Hero, Claudio denounces her publicly in the church on the day of their wedding. With Leonato and Antonia enraged at the accusation, Friar Francis convinces them to carry on as if Hero had died in order that her virtue may be restored.
The local constabulary arrest Borrachio who reveals his culpability in the scheme and is brought to trial. With Hero's virtue restored, Leonato demands that Claudio make a public apology and marry Hero's niece in her place. Claudio agrees to this arrangement and in an evening wedding lifts his bride's veil to discover that Hero is either alive or reborn. Don John is apprehended for his part in the villainy, while Beatrice and Benedick who have admitted their love for one another agree to marry alongside Hero and Claudio.
There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.G.K. Chesterton
There's a great old joke about eyewitness testimony that goes like this:
Pablo Picasso was mugged and had his wallet stolen; the police asked him to make a sketch of the culprit, and he complied.
Two days later they arrested 2 albino Goats, 3 clowns with one eye, and a refrigerator.
Many linguists will argue that the soft "th" sound wasn't around in the 16th Century; thus, the title of our play probably sounded like Much Ado About Noting to the ears of his audiences in 1598. Shakespeare capitalizes on the homophone for a delightful pun, while giving us a clear indication of the play's recurring conflict: The characters keep seeing things – noting things – but these things aren't ever what they seem to be.
We too fall in the same trap, do we not? Like Beatrice and Benedick we see things we desperately want to see; or like Claudio, we see things of which we are desperately afraid. In either case, Chesterton's road from eye to heart is wide open and the intellect only gets in the way; we see it and thus believe it, without stopping to think about it. For the real world this short-circuiting is dangerous business; it leads to hate, intolerance, and ignorance. "Don't confuse me with the facts", infamously uttered Congressman Earl Landgrebe at the Watergate hearings, "I've got a closed mind." But for tonight we'll allow it because in the end, its all much ado about... well, you know.
Kevin P. Kern, Director for Much Ado About Nothing