Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare’s rom com of mistaken identities, plots galore, and of course, enemies to lovers.

When old friends rock up at Leonata’s lush Italian house, rivalries and romances are rekindled. Don Pedro and Donna Joan both have plans for battling Benedick and Beatrice, and loved up Claudio and Hero, but with very different intentions…

With their meddling going to plan, Messina is in shock – will everything get resolved when bumbling officers Dogberry and Verges are the ones left in charge of uncovering the plots?

A Lockdown Production

In 2020 as the world plunged into the first of a number of lockdowns due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a group of community theatre actors from Northampton, UK, started gathering online over video call as a creative outlet. What started off as watching National Theatre screenings together, turned into play reads – and then the suggestion that we could record one together…

Director Rebecca Cockcroft suggested William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and offered to adapt the script – and then most of the way through recording during the hot summer of 2020, the world reopened, and the project was put on the back burner.

But 2022 saw the project finally completed and released online on YouTube and Spotify to listen for free!

  • Beatrice – Rebecca Cockcroft
  • Benedick – John Myhill
  • Leonata – April Pardoe
  • Messenger / Ursula / The Watch – Sue Whyte
  • Hero / Sexton – Julia Langley
  • Don Pedro – Will Brown
  • Donna Joan – Bex Fey
  • Claudio – James Lickman
  • Antonia / Verges – Erica Mynard
  • Conrad – Bernadette Wood
  • Borachio – Lou Chawner
  • Margaret / The Watch – Mairead Kearins
  • Dogberry – Fraser Haines
  • Friar Francis – Elizabeth Palmer
  • Adapted, directed and edited by Rebecca Cockcroft

The Plot: Much Ado About Nothing

Welcome to Messina, the home of Leonata. News comes that Don Pedro is stopping on his way back, victorious, from a war, and he shortly arrives along with his new right-hand man Claudio, Signor Benedick, and his disgraced sister Donna Joan.

Benedick and Leonata’s niece Beatrice have history, and neither is too happy to see the other – a war of words ensues, much to the delight of everyone else. Meanwhile, Claudio spies Leonata’s daughter, Hero, and instantly falls in love. Benedick dismisses the idea of marriage, while Don Pedro tells Claudio he will help him to propose to Hero at the masked ball later that night.

Donna Joan conspires with her pals Conrad and Borachio to make mischief to elevate her misery – Borachio reports Don Pedro’s plan, and they decide to find a way to prevent the marriage at the ball.

Beatrice, Leonata and Antonia discuss Donna Joan and Benedick, and Beatrice’s desire to never marry. The revellers enter, masked, and Don Pedro invites Hero to dance with him. Borachio and Margaret, Hero’s maid, flirt as they dance. Disguised, Benedick talks to Beatrice and “reports” some hearsay he’s heard of her – Beatrice, not buying the disguise, uses it as an opportunity to insult Benedick to his face by calling him a dull fool.

Donna Joan and Borachio approach the masked Claudio, and pretending they think he is Benedick, tell him that Don Pedro has wooed Hero for himself. Claudio instantly believes them, and goes off in a strop.

Benedick tells Don Pedro about Beatrice’s insults – and perhaps protests too much. He leaves as soon as she arrives with Claudio. Beatrice tells Don Pedro that Benedick once before had her heart, but won it with lies. Don Pedro explains that he has wooed Hero for Claudio, not himself, and Hero and Leonata give their blessings. Beatrice quietly laments to Don Pedro that everyone else seems to be getting married except her – Don Pedro proposes to her, but she turns him down in a happy manner.

With Leonata insisting on a week until the wedding of Claudio and Hero, Don Pedro decides that, to entertain them in the meantime, they will endeavour to bring Benedick and Beatrice into “a mountain of affection, the one with the other”

Donna Joan is even more miserable to discover her plot has failed, but Borachio has a plan. He tells Joan that he can get Margaret to stand out at Hero’s bedroom window with him, and he’ll call her Hero – Donna Joan is to bring Claudio and Don Pedro to the street below to hear the interaction as proof of Hero’s infidelity. Donna Joan promises Borachio a thousand ducats for the act.

The next day, in the garden, Benedick ponders marriage until Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonata arrive and loudly discuss how Beatrice is in love with him. Benedick believes every word, and declares that he will be “horribly in love with her”. Beatrice is sent to send Benedick into dinner, and she’s confused by how nice Benedick is suddenly behaving towards her.

Later, Hero sends Margaret to tells Beatrice that she is being talked about – then as she arrives and hides, Hero and Ursula speak loudly about Benedick’s feelings for her, and how Beatrice’s pride and mocking weren’t admirable. Beatrice contemplates her behaviour, and announces to herself that she’ll change – and she’ll requite Benedick’s love.

Benedick is out of sorts, Don Pedro and Claudio declare he is in love! As Benedick leaves with Leonata, Donna Joan arrives and tells Claudio that Hero is disloyal – and he can give him proof. Claudio says that he will publicly shame Hero if it turns out to be true.

Nearby in Messina, blundering police chief Dogberry and his assistant Verges brief the Watch for the evening – as the Watch begins, a drunk Borachio and Conrad stagger in. Borachio loudly brags of his conquest of Margaret while and Claudio and Don Pedro thought it was Hero – and the Watch arrest him and Conrad.

Hero prepares for her wedding the next day – Beatrice arrives in a melancholy mood, and is teased by Hero and Margaret about Benedick.

Dogberry and Verges arrive at Leonata’s house to try to tell her of the men they arrested, but, focused on the wedding she dismisses them, and insists they investigate the men themselves.

At the wedding, Claudio shames Hero at the altar and leaves her for dead. Leonata is devastated and wishes Hero dead herself. Friar Francis refuses to believe that Hero has done what she has been accused of, and plots with Leonata to have Hero kept it, but publicly announced as dying of shame. Once they are alone, Benedick comforts Beatrice, and declares his love for her, which she returns. He begs her to ask anything of him – but when she asks him to kill Claudio, Benedick refuses. They argue, but she convinces him that Claudio is a villain, and Benedick agrees to challenge him.

Borachio and Conrad are bought before the Sexton for trial – the Watch explain their crime, and Sexton reveals that this has all happened and that Hero has died.

Leonata accuses Claudio and Don Pedro of killing her daughter, but they refuse to stand down. Benedick arrives and challenges Claudio to a duel, but they don’t believe him, until they realise that Donna Joan is fled and they may have been tricked. Leonata says that, in apology, Claudio should marry her niece, who is very like Hero – Claudio agrees.

Benedick asks Margaret to help him write a poem to Beatrice, and call her to him. Beatrice and Benedick banter, until Ursula arrives with the news that Hero is cleared of all blame.

Claudio and Don Pedro attend Hero’s monument and pay tribute to her. The next day at the new wedding, Hero, Beatrice and Ursula are veiled and hide their faces. Benedick asks Leonata and the Friar for permission and help to marry Beatrice – Leonata reveals the trick they played on them to get them to this point. Claudio arrives and agrees to marry Leonata’s niece. The niece is revealed to be Hero, who died only while her slander lived. Benedick and Beatrice both deny they love each other, until their letters to one and other are revealed by Hero and Claudio, at which point they decide they will marry each other after all!

A Messenger arrives with news that Donna Joan has been captured and is brought back to Messina – Benedick says he will devise a punishment for her, but for now, they should party!