Much Ado About Nothing is a well-known comedy play by William Shakespeare dating back to the end of the sixteenth century and was first printed in 1600. It is predominantly written in the format of prose, while the substantial verse sections allow one to reach a sense of decorum during dialogues. The play’s setting occurs in Messina, a Sicilian island port (Shakespeare, n.d.). The play remains relevant today due to the themes that it touched upon, such as the issue of gender roles, loyalty and infidelity, deception, and mistaken identity. Among numerous stage and film production of the play, it was chosen to analyze the interpretation of Much Ado About Nothing by Lees-McRae College in 2011 (Coston, 2011).
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In the production, the traditional approach toward performing Shakespearean plays was selected. Therefore, there are no revisions to the written version. The director took the route of using the clothing and decorations that fit Italy’s style in the seventeenth century. The traditional interpretation of Shakespeare is valuable because it transfers the viewer several centuries back, thus creating a unique and deep atmosphere. Besides, considering that the play is a comedy, the juxtaposition between period costumes and jokes adds a certain comedic flair, and the viewer does not take it very seriously, just as intended by directors.
The stage is well-lit in the front while the archways in the background are not, which creates some drama in terms of the setting. The audience sits in the dark, which emphasizes the stage and the actors without distracting viewers from anything else. The row of banisters on the second floor of the stage creates an illusion of a larger space. Some of the character’s monologues and dialogue take place from the second floor with the railings. While the set is not complicated, it is ornate and multi-dimensional enough to create an appropriate atmosphere for a Shakespearean play.
The performance creates a relaxed mood because the play is a comedy, and the laughter that one can hear from the audience is evidence of that. In contrast to many other plays by Shakespeare, there is no need to be too serious in this play. Despite the fact that the themes that are covered in the play can sometimes be complicated and controversial, approaching them from a comedic standpoint makes people laugh at themselves and at life in general. The same is true for the actors of the play: while they have memorized their lines and performance, they allow themselves to smile and laugh at little during highly comedic scenes.
Through the performance, it is easier to understand the personality features of the main characters as well as their emotions during different situations. The version stood out due to its excellent production and the choice of characters. The actor who played Leonato was especially impressive, as even pointed out by the YouTube viewers of the video. Overall, the production of Much Ado About Nothing by Lees-McRae College is an example of traditional Shakespeare done right. The play was popular in its early decades of being written and maintained, being a standard wherever plays by Shakespeare are performed. While there is always room for innovative approaches toward performing the plays by Shakespeare, the classical interpretation should never be disregarded, as exemplified by the products discussed in this paper.
Coston, G. (2011). Much ado about nothing – Lees-McRae College [Video file]. Web.
Shakespeare, W. (n.d.). Much ado about nothing. Web.
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