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Much Ado About Nothing

Plot Summary

The war is over. Pedro, Prince of Aragon, with his followers Benedick and Claudio, visits Leonato, Duke of Messina, father of Hero and uncle of Beatrice. Claudio falls in love with Hero and their marriage is agreed upon. Beatrice and Benedick despise love and engage in comic banter. The others plot to make them fall in love with each other, by a trick in which Benedick will overhear his friends talking of Beatrice's supposed secret love for him, and vice versa. Meanwhile Don John, the prince's misanthropic illegitimate brother, contrives a more malicious plot with the assistance of his follower Borachio: Claudio is led to believe that he has witnessed Hero in a compromising situation on the night before her wedding day – in fact it is her maid Margaret with Borachio. Claudio denounces Hero during the marriage ceremony. She faints and on the advice of the Friar, who is convinced of her innocence, Leonato announces that she is dead. Beatrice demands that Benedick should kill Claudio. The foolish constable Dogberry and his watchmen overhear Borachio boasting of his exploit and the plot is exposed. Claudio promises to make amends to Leonato: he is required to marry a cousin of Hero's in her place. When unmasked, she is revealed as Hero. Beatrice agrees to marry Benedick.

RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1961 RST: Michael Langham
Desmond Heeley (design); Maurice Daniels (lighting); Louis Applebaum (music)


Geraldine McEwan (Beatrice), Christopher Plummer (Benedick), Noel Willman (Don Pedro), Ian Richardson (Don John), Jill Dixon (Hero), Barry Warren (Claudio), Newton Blick (Dogberry), Redmond Phillips (Leonato), Tony Church (Antonio), David Buck (Borachio), Gordon Gostelow (Conrade), Peter Holmes (Friar Francis), Julian Battersby (Sexton), Clifford Rose (Verges), Maroussia Frank (Margaret), Rosalind Knight (Ursula), Ronald Scott-Dodd (Balthasar), William Wallis (First Watch), Terry Wale (Second Watch), Richard Barr (Third Watch), Gareth Morgan (Villager)

1968 RST/1969 US Tour (Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc)/1969 Aldwych: Trevor Nunn
Christopher Morley (design); John Bradley (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)


Janet Suzman (Beatrice), Alan Howard (Benedick), Norman Rodway/Anthony Bate (Don Pedro), Terrence Hardiman/Clifford Rose (Don John), Helen Mirren (Hero), Bernard Lloyd (Claudio), David Waller (Dogberry), Sebastian Shaw (Leonato), George Cormack (Antonio), Patrick Stewart (Borachio), Ben Kingsley (Conrade), Julian Curry (Friar Francis), Richard Simpson (Sexton), Clifford Rose/Richard Simpson (Verges), Susan Fleetwood/Sara Kestelman (Margaret), Rowena Cooper (Ursula), John Shrapnel (Balthasar), Bruce Myers (First Watch), Peter Gordon (Second Watch) Gareth Thomas (Soldier)

1971 RST/1971 Aldwych: Ronald Eyre
Voytek (design); Barry Griffiths (lighting); Carl Davis (music)


Elizabeth Spriggs (Beatrice), Derek Godfrey (Benedick), Jeffery Dench (Don Pedro), Richard Pasco (Don John), Alison Fiske (Hero), Roger Rees (Claudio), Peter Woodthorpe (Dogberry), Tony Church (Leonato), Gordon Gostelow (Antonio), Morgan Sheppard (Borachio), Anthony Pedley (Conrade), Peter Geddis (Friar Francis), Gordon Reid (Sexton), Sydney Bromley (Verges), Polly James (Margaret), Anne Dyson (Ursula), Adrian Harman (Balthasar), Geoffrey Hutchings, Michael Williams (Officers/The Watch), Judi Dench, Lynn Dearth, Janet Whiteside (Ladies), Denis Holmes (Steward)

1976 RST/1977 Aldwych: John Barton
John Napier (design); Clive Morris (lighting); James Walker (music)


Judi Dench (Beatrice), Donald Sinden (Benedick), Robin Ellis (Don Pedro), Ian McDiarmid (Don John), Cherie Lunghi (Hero), Richard Durden (Claudio), John Woodvine (Dogberry), Ivan Beavis (Leonato), Dennis Clinton (Antonio), Bob Peck (Borachio), Brian Coburn (Conrade), John Bown (Friar Francis), Keith Taylor/David Lyon (Sexton), Norman Tyrrell (Verges), Eliza Ward (Margaret), Marilyn Taylerson (Ursula), Jacob Witkin (Balthasar), Greg Hicks, Clyde Pollitt, Paul Whitworth (The Watch), Pippa Guard, Marjorie Bland, Susan Dury (Maids)

1979 Small-scale Tour/1980 Warehouse: Howard Davies
Chris Dyer (design); Brian Wigney (lighting); Stephen Oliver (music)


Charlotte Cornwell (Beatrice), Kenneth Colley (Benedick), Clive Merrison (Don Pedro), Donald Sumpter (Don John), Jill Baker (Hero), Hugh Fraser (Claudio), Alun Armstrong (Dogberry), Fred Pearson (Leonato), Kenny Ireland (Antonio), Colin McCormack (Borachio), David John (Conrade), Roger Sloman (Friar Francis/Watch), John Rogan (Verges), Jane Carr (Margaret), Matyelok Gibbs (Ursula), Andrew Dickson (Balthasar/Watch)

1982 RST/1983-84 Barbican/1984 International Tour (Paris, Los Angeles, New York, etc): Terry Hands
Ralph Koltai (design), Alexander Reid (costumes); Terry Hands, Clive Morris (lighting); Nigel Hess (music)


Sinead Cusack (Beatrice), Derek Jacobi (Benedick), Derek Godfrey/Ken Bones (Don Pedro), John Carlisle (Don John), Joanna Foster/Clare Byam Shaw (Hero), Robert O'Mahoney (Claudio), Terry Wood/Christopher Benjamin (Dogberry), Edward Jewesbury (Leonato), Jeffery Dench (Antonio), Ken Bones/Geoffrey Freshwater (Borachio), David Troughton/Richard Clifford (Conrade), George Parsons (Friar Francis), Ray Llewellyn (Sexton), Jimmy Gardner (Verges), Christine Kavanagh/Josette Simon/Alexandra Brook (Margaret), Katy Behean/Cathy Finlay (Ursula), Philip Dennis (Balthasar), Albie Woodington (George Seacoal), William Haden (Hugh Oatcake), Christopher Bowen (First Watch), David Shaw-Parker (Fourth Watch), Josette Simon/Cathy Finlay/Jayne Tottman (Josetta)

1986-87 Small-scale Tour: Ron Daniels
Di Seymour (design); Geraint Pughe (lighting); Jeremy Sams (music)


Fiona Shaw (Beatrice), Nigel Terry (Benedick), Martin Turner (Don Pedro), Simon Dutton (Don John), Jacqueline Dankworth (Hero), Paul Rhys (Claudio), Dick Brannick (Dogberry), Paul Webster (Leonato), Norman Henry (Antonio), John Bowler (Borachio), William Chubb (Conrade), David Summer (Friar Francis/Sexton/First Watch), Paul McLeary (Verges), Susan Harper-Browne (Margaret), Rachel Joyce (Ursula), Rupert Holliday Evans (Balthasar/Second Watch)

1988 RST: Di Trevis
Mark Thompson (design); Mark Henderson (lighting); Dominic Muldowney (music)


Maggie Steed (Beatrice), Clive Merrison (Benedick), David Lyon (Don Pedro), Robert Demeger (Don John), Julia Ford (Hero), Ralph Fiennes (Claudio), David Waller (Dogberry), Antony Brown (Leonato), Raymond Bowers (Antonio), Roger Watkins (Borachio), Patrick Robinson (Conrade), Edward Harbour (Friar Francis/Watch), Darryl Forbes-Dawson (Sexton), Jeffrey Segal (Verges), Denise Armon (Margaret), Catherine Harding (Ursula), Kenn Sabberton (Balthasar), Simon Dormandy (Hugh Oatcake), Jo James (Watch)

1990 RST/1991 Barbican: Bill Alexander
Kit Surrey (design); Brian Harris (lighting); Ilona Sekacz (music)


Susan Fleetwood (Beatrice), Roger Allam (Benedick), John Carlisle (Don Pedro), Vincent Regan (Don John), Alex Kingston (Hero), John McAndrew (Claudio), George Raistrick (Dogberry), Paul Webster (Leonato), Trevor Martin (Antonio), Ken Shorter (Borachio), Dominic Mafham (Conrade), Mike Dowling/Alec Linstead (Friar Francis), Bill McGuirk (Sexton), Arnold Yarrow (Verges), Mary Chater (Margaret), Andrea Wray/Lucy Slater (Ursula), Jamie Hinde (Balthasar), Andrew Havill (George Seacoal), Marston Bloom (Hugh Oatcake), Anthony Skordi (Watch), Lucy Slater (Lady)

1996-97 RST/1998 Barbican: Michael Boyd
Tom Piper (design); Robert Bryan (lighting); Stanislas Syrewicz (music)


Siobhan Redmond (Beatrice), Alex Jennings (Benedick), Peter Wight (Don Pedro), Damian Lewis (Don John), Emily Bruni (Hero), Rhashan Stone (Claudio), Christopher Luscombe (Dogberry), Jeffry Wickham (Leonato), David Glover (Antonio), Patrick Baladi (Borachio), Christopher Gee (Conrade), Patrice Naiambana (Friar Francis), Michael Healy (Sexton), Toby Longworth (Verges), Elli Garnett (Margaret), Deirdra Morris (Ursula), Richard Cant (Balthasar), Ignatius Anthony (George Seacoal), Shuna Snow (Hugh Oatcake), Crispian Belfrage (Francis Leathercoat), Jane McFarlane (Lady with Cello)

2002 RST/2002 Theatre Royal Haymarket: Gregory Doran
Stephen Brimson Lewis (design); Tim Mitchell (lighting); Paul Englishby (music)


Harriet Walter (Beatrice), Nicholas Le Prevost (Benedick), Clive Wood (Don Pedro), Stephen Campbell-Moore (Don John), Kirsten Parker (Hero), John Hopkins (Claudio), Christopher Benjamin (Dogberry), Gary Waldhorn (Leonato), Trevor Martin (Antonio), John Killoran (Borachio), Ian Drysdale (Conrade), William Whymper (Friar Francis), Julien Bell (Sexton), Simon Scott (Verges), Sarah Ball (Margaret), Noma Dumezweni (Ursula), Cristina Barreiro (Innogen), Julian Jensen (Balthasar), Steve Sarossy (First Watchman), Israel Aduramo (Second Watchman), Ross Waiton (Third Watchman)

2006 Swan (Complete Works Festival)/2006-07 Novello: Marianne Elliott
Lez Brotherston (design); Neil Austin (lighting); Olly Fox (music); Chris Shut (sound); Sarah Gorman (movement)


Tamsin Greig (Beatrice), Joseph Millson (Benedick), Patrick Robinson (Don Pedro), Jonny Weir (Don John), Morven Christie (Hero), Adam Rayner (Claudio), Bette Bourne (Dogberry), Nicholas Day (Leonato), Leon Tanner (Antonio), Jamie Ballard (Borachio), Geoffrey Lumb (Conrade), Patrick Romer (Friar Francis), John Heffernan (Sexton), Steven Beard (Verges), Amy Brown (Margaret), Caroline Wildi (Ursula), Yvette Rochester-Duncan (Balthasar), Sam O'Mahony-Adams (Watch), Curtis Flowers (Watch), Christopher Davies (Watch), Shane Frater (Watch), Somon Bubb (Messenger)

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