Much Ado About Nothing is by far my favorite Shakespeare play. I love most of his others too (especially Twelfth Night, Macbeth, & Romeo and Juliet), but this play is special. It’s fun to watch/read but surprisingly complex. If you haven’t ever seen/read it, I highly recommend starting with the Branaugh movie version and then reading an annotated copy.
I actually own the dramatized audio version with David Tennant and Samantha Spiro, so I really like listening while I read along in hard copy. They’re both wonderful actors that bring a lot to the table. Tennant especially is perfect at making Shakespearian dialogue sound modern. The entire production is wonderful though and a good bridge between watching and reading a play.
This is the original enemies to lovers story for me and it wormed itself under my skin. Everything since then is basically compared to this one. Some of my favorites like North and South, Pride and Prejudice, and even The Hating Game are worthy successors, but plenty fail in comparison. Perhaps it’s a little mean to compare them all to Shakespeare but it is what it is.
I’ve read a lot about the feminist leanings of this play and I tend to agree with them. Hero is treated so badly by the men and they’re clearly villains in their own right, despite Don John’s evil machinations. The men in the book who actually listen to the women (Benedick, the Friar, and eventually Leonato) are the ones who prevent this play from turning into a tragedy. And Beatrice is basically the pinnacle of Shakespeare’s characters with her wit, passion, and caring. It’s delightful to see her and Benedick get hoodwinked because you know it’s all in good fun and they’ll be happier for it in the end.
There are so many good versions of this play and I’ve seen most of them so if you ever feel like fangirling with me, I’m so there!