Title: Much Ado About Nothing
Author: William Shakespeare
Genre: Classic, Play
Source: Library (Dramatization Audiobook)
Length: 2 hours 14 minutes
Narrator: Full cast
Publisher: BBC Radio
Set in a courtly world of masked revels and dances, this play turns on the archetypal story if a lady falsely accused of unfaithfulness, spurned by her bridegroom, and finally vindicated and reunited with him. Villainy, schemes, and deceit threatens to darken the brilliant humor and sparkling wordplay–but the hilarious counterplot of a warring couple, Beatrice and Benedick, steals the scene as the two are finally tricked into admitting their love for each other in Shakespeare’s superb comedy of manners.
About the BBC Radio Dramatized audiobook:
BBC Radio has a unique heritage when it comes to Shakespeare. Since 1923, when the newly formed company broadcast its first full-length play, generations of actors and producers have honed and perfected the craft of making Shakespeare to be heard.
In Much Ado, the clarity of radio allows the wonderful verbal sparring between Beatrice and Benedick to sparkle as high comedy and melodrama mix magically in a combination of prose and verse.
Revitalised, original, and comprehensive, this is Shakespeare for the new millennium.
(This review was originally posted on my blog Winter Distractions on April 2, 2013)
It has been YEARS since I’ve read anything to do with Shakespeare. To tell the truth, I remember being quite lost in high school when we read some of his plays, not really knowing what was going on. I think this is why I had avoided reading any plays for so long. BUT when I got completely addicted to David Tennant (from Doctor Who), I decided to check out everything my library had that was about him, or featured him. One of these items was the audiobook for Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
It sat on my table for a few weeks before I thought of picking it up. Actually, the whole reason I picked it up was because I was looking for a book to start in the evening, but a classic book, and something that was short. Much Ado About Nothing is a mere 30 pages in my massive Shakespeare book, and the audiobook was just over two hours. I thought I would be able to just listen and go about my evening, but once the Shakespearian talk started up, I decided the best thing to do would be to curl up with the audiobook and follow along in my giant compendium as well. Best decision ever!
The first thing I noticed when listening was that it was so much easier to really understand what was going on. Really, this play is quite awesome. It may have helped that the audiobook was the BBC dramatized version of the story, which meant multiple actors doing the reading. I loved that I could really tell the different between the voices and the pacing was perfect so that I could follow along in my book. The actors picked to read for this play fit PERFECTLY to their parts and, I may be biased, but I thought that David Tennant did a perfect Benedick — and Samantha Spiro was also wonderful as Beatrice. Really, I started listening to this, thinking that the only thing I would like would be David Tennant, but I really enjoyed all of the scenes and the full cast. It was a real treat to listen to.
The second thing I noticed was the HUMOUR! I knew that Much Ado About Nothing was a comedy, but I really had no idea it would be as funny as it was. I must have laughed out loud a few times as I read and listened, which would have been unthinkable back in my high school days.
I do feel like I can’t just comment on the voice actors and the humour, but also the story. I had a smile on my face for the majority of this book because of the story. It’s not just a comedy, but a romance as well. The romance between the two main characters was pretty much based on their friends trying to fool them into thinking that they each loved each other. I thought that part was unbelievably sweet! And there’s not just one romance going on, but two. I do think that the romance between Benedick and Beatrice is the best one of the play, just because they seem so equally compatible and UNcompatible with one another.
One thing I noticed while reading this — which I’m surprised I didn’t know more of before — was the connection between this play and the band Mumford & Sons. Right off the bat, I realized that the name of their first album, Sigh No More, was taken from this play — as are various lyrics borrowed. Once I finished reading, I immediately put on the album just so I could listen to the lyrics and try to pick out ones that came from this play. I can see myself reading the play again just so I can find them all!
The only real issue I had, reading and listening in tandem, was that the audiobook was just slightly abridged. There were certain lines cut out for some reason — though, a few looked like they were just a little too prejudiced that they were cut. Also, there was a scene that was moved around from the original play. BUT I really didn’t find fault with anything else. I loved the little extras that the actors added to the play and would definitely listen to it again when I need a laugh.
I’m so happy that I decided to pick up this play and read it. While I thought it would be something I would put down from boredom or lack of understanding, it has led me to want to read more of Shakespeare’s plays.