My book club occasionally has a movie night in place of a book for the month and we enjoy watching movies made based on books, though we’re not always limited to that. For the month of March we planned to get together and watch the newer version of “Much Ado About Nothing” that came out in 2012 by director Joss Whedon. The week before this event I suddenly realized that I have never watched the older version nor have I ever read the play. Basically I didn’t even know the plot of this Shakespearean play! That was a strange thought considering that he is so widely known and read and much beloved! I know many of his stories, but this one I did not! I remember covering the content and watching different film versions of Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and Hamlet, but don’t actually remember reading all of any (many apologies to my English and literature teachers, but it could be on account of a bad memory). So I’ve decided to read these plays one at a time until I have read Shakespeare’s works.
How would I like the flow of reading a play? It turns out it came quite easy! I personally find it easy to transition into the old English, but in some cases it was helpful to have the footnotes at the bottom when I wasn’t sure if I understood something correctly. Oh, and quick disclaimer, I didn’t read the introduction (bad right?) I just skipped right into it. There are many versions that you can read and I am sure any would work. I chose The Oxford Shakespeare version.
It was actually quite fun. Having not known the plot I really enjoyed the witty banter of Beatrice and Benedick who so obviously love each other, but will not admit it for anything, even to themselves. The love of Claudio and Hero was sweet, but tragedy ensues when the villainous Don John plans to destroy their happiness. I found this a fun read. Watching the movie was also funny. Reading a play there are not visual cues about the scene, setting or anything really, so while preforming you could take so many different points of view. The spin of the modern movie did just that, swapping genders for some roles and really making it apply to the times.
Next on my list is to watch the 1993 version of the movie directed by Kenneth Branagh, whom I love. Then I’ll eventually pick another one of Shakespeare’s works until I can say I’ve successfully completed them. I’ll keep you posted!