What happens in Much Ado About Nothing


This month in What Happens in Shakespeare, let’s revive our spirits with Much Ado About Nothing, a fizzy drink of a play with some surprisingly heavy twists at the bottom of the glass.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company tweeted: “People in love act like idiots. Don’t believe everything you hear.” 

What happens in Much Ado About Nothing

Beatrice and Benedick have sharp tongues and a juicy feud based on mutual loathing.

Hero and Claudio are deeply in love and never argue at all. (Hero is a girl.)

Two old men start meddling.

Old Man #1, Don Pedro, engineers a gossip campaign to mess with Beatrice and Benedick and gives out that they each secretly like each other. The two believe the false rumors and get all flustered around each other. They go from being sparring partners to K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

Old Man #2, Don John, has a creepier plan. He frames Hero and makes it look like she’s cheating on Claudio. He does it because he’s mad at Don Pedro, who is his brother, but that’s a subplot and we don’t do subplots on What Happens in Shakespeare. We’re trying to fight the TLDR.

Claudio believes the vicious gossip. He dumps Hero. Now Hero’s heart is broken and the whole town thinks she’s a slut.

Hero’s father fixes everything by making Claudio agree to marry his “niece” – Hero in disguise. Claudio is happily surprised to see Hero, who forgives him.

Beatrice and Benedick are keen to tie the knot.

The curtain falls on a good old-fashioned double wedding.


For more, I recommend Open Source Shakespeare, which has a fun feature where you can click on a character’s name and see all their speeches. Two movie versions I could watch over and over are Kenneth Branagh’s from 1993 and Joss Whedon’s from 2012.