Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
Scholars Online Educational Resources

Home

All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Coriolanus
Cymbeline
Hamlet
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Macbeth
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello
Pericles
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale
Shakespeareana

Available versions

1967: Alan Cooke

1973: Nick Havinga (Joseph Papp)

1984: Stuart Burge

1987: Herb Roland (Peter Moss)

1993: Kenneth Branagh

2010: Brandon Arnold

2011: Josie Rourke

2012: Joss Whedon

2012: Robin Lough (Jeremy Herrin)


Adaptations

2005: ShakespeaRe-Told: Much Ado About Nothing


Much Ado About Nothing

In many ways, Much Ado about Nothing stands alongside As You Like It as a quintessential Shakespeare comedy. It is a classic comedy in the tradition that holds that tragedies end in death, while comedies end in marriages. It’s founded more in character than in situational issues, and it never really lapses into mere farce. It draws most of its energy from the romantic tension of two different couples — Hero and Claudio, on the one hand, and Beatrice and Benedick on the other. In addition there is the nearly slapstick behavior of the constable Dogberry and his confederates — who, despite being fools, also hold the key to the problem.

Whereas the romantic tension of As You Like It depends at least in part on the mistaken (or at least concealed) identity of Rosalind, here the issues are about the misapprehension of someone else’s meaning or action. Claudio misunderstands what he’s given to see about the behavior of Hero, and so assumes she’s been unfaithful to him; Beatrice and Benedick are tricked into knowing themselves in despite of their complex machinery of self-deception and outward presentation.

All in all, the play is a delight, remarkably robust, and almost always entertaining. Each performance, of course, has its own strengths and weaknesses, but it’s generally conceded that the most important single element in making any given version work is a crisp interaction of Beatrice and Benedick. The situation between Hero and Claudio is more static, and while it is in many ways more serious in its initial import, it offers less scope for dramatic manipulation and amusement. It is potentially tragic in its implications, though it does not finally turn in a dark direction. Hero goes down on the list of Shakespeare heroines who have almost infinite patience with their undeserving lovers’ abuses.

There is a delightful range of filmed versions available here: all of those that I’ve seen myself are worth watching, and at least three of them are positively brilliant.