Act Two: The Only Love Gods, Some Mere Mortals, and a Bastard

When we last left Messina, Don John the Bastard was planning mischief against his brother and Claudio, and as Act Two of Much Ado About Nothing begins, the lil’ bastard is the focus of Leonato’s family’s discussion. John is so sour (“tartly” [II.i.3]) and “melancholy” (II.i.5), that Beatrice needs an anti-acid. Still, she feels that

an excellent man (would be) just in the midway between him and Benedick: the one is too like an image and says nothing, and the other too like my lady’s eldest son, evermore tattling.
  • II.i.6-9

It seems that, like Benedick with Beatrice (I.i.181-4), Beatrice’s thoughts of the opposite gender immediately circle back to Benedick.

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Act One: Listening and Planning

When Much Ado About Nothing opens, the scene is the estate of Leonato, who according to the list of characters is the Governor of Messina, and he, his daughter Hero, his niece Beatrice, and a messenger enter. We immediately learn that Don Pedro of Aragon is coming to Messina. Leonato asks if there were many killed the recent military “action” (I.i.6), and we learn that only a few of rank (“sort” [I.i.7]) and “none of name” (I.i.7).

Leonato then asks about “a young Florentine called Claudio” (I.i.10-1). How does Leonato know him? We don’t know for sure. Yet. The messenger reveals that Claudio has completed such acts of bravery (“feats of a lion” [I.i.15]), that he has been rewarded (“remembered” [I.i.13]) by Don Pedro. And then we learn how Leonato knows Claudio; the young man has an uncle in Messina, and the messenger recounts how the uncle was so overjoyed by the news his nephew has returned that he broke into tears. But we still don’t know anything about the war.

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Much Ado… (from the Folger Shakespeare Library)

For those who haven’t checked out the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Digital Image Collection yet, do yourself a favor and do so…

A quick perusal found this cool front sheet for our new play under discussion:

Podcast 63: Much Ado Live Review

This week’s podcast is a short holiday present to our listeners: a review of the recent production of Much Ado About Nothing mounted by the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles.
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