Monday, April 18, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult

(Yes, I'm branching out here.) Like many of you, I received my introduction to Shakespeare in the form of Romeo and Juliet. I begrudgingly admitted that Shakespeare was perhaps the most prolific author ever and then made a clean break with the story, hoping to never endure such stupid characters ever again. (I mean come on, the story goes to pot because of lack of communication and shear stupidity. Plus the whole thing is based of the Greek myth of Pyramus and Thisbe, so yes, we would have West Side Story without Romeo and Juliet). Anyway, time rolled on and I read Julius Caesar, and (aside from my embarrassing tendency to call him Julius Shakespeare) I enjoyed the play. Then I read Much Ado About Nothing...and I loved it.

Apparently, comedy is tragedy closely averted. Weird huh? Anyway, Much Ado could have easily gone down tragedy lane. We've got ruined reputations, dastardly villains (the main one's name is Don John, the Bastard), and a Friar. (I have nothing against friars, but the one in Romeo and Juliet messed up big time). The story has two main plots, one being the near disastrous relationship between Hero and Claudio, the other a banter-filled, unlikely romance between Beatrice and Benedick.

I absolutely fell in love with the characters in this play (Well, almost all of the characters. Claudio is a real butt and Hero deserves better.) My favorite one? That would be Beatrice. How many of you would expect to find a strong female character in a play written before the equality of women was even a blip on most people's radars? Not me. As such, I was pleasantly surprised to meet Beatrice, an intelligent, independent woman who can hold her own against any man. Beatrice rocks! Also, her relationship with Benedick is priceless; it creates some of the funniest, most endearing scenes in the play.

The big picture: Much Ado About Nothing is AMAZING. I recommend it to everyone, but especially to those people who were forced to read Romeo and Juliet and then swore off Shakespeare.