JOSS WHEDON – SHAKESPEARE – MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – 2013
To modernize Shakespeare is not
always the best guarantee the depth of such a light comedy will be kept and
even amplified. In this case the set is a real labyrinth, house and gardens,
and we are sort of lost in all these corridors and rooms, bedrooms, kitchen,
living rooms that are constantly, on all sides communicating, making any
privacy impossible. But we get used to it.
The plot is more or less kept but
princes, lords, counts and other noble people in modern garb in the modern
world with cars and mammoth fridges and all modern comfort and commodities
sound slightly folkloric. But here too we get used to it.
That was a comedy and still is,
especially since the private cops are pathetic when they protest because they
are called asses, which is not really an insult since they are nothing but
mules for their princes and other noble people. But what about the rest of the
Two young women. One wants to get
married with a young man who at first is quite willing but some slandering goes
on and the young man accuses the young woman of not being a maid any more. Love
goes along with a lot of pain, as is well known. So she is announced as being
dead after fainting in that tense situation, with the complicity of the local
priest who was supposed to perform the wedding ceremony. We already know about
that since we all know Romeo and Juliet. But it is a comedy. So everything will
have to find some epiphany.
The second young woman is in love
with a certain Benedict. But Benedict has sworn he will never marry, though that
woman attracts him because she professes the idea that she will never marry.
Never attracts never and two negatives make a positive. This young woman is the
cousin of the first one and Benedict is intelligent enough to swear he is going
to accuse and confront the man who she was to marry and who accused her
But no duel will take place
because in the meantime the private security mules have been able to discover
the plot and to arrest a couple who had been paid to spread the slandering
rumor. So everything will end up well and they will be happy ever after. And
two weddings in one day! Isn’t that an achievement?
One of these comedies Shakespeare
loved though the modern rewriting and shortening or densifying makes it a
little bit easy, light, rather simple in a way. Apart from that lightness it is
brilliantly set and performed though maybe slightly stiff as for the main Lord
and clownish as for the private security asses. I must say too that the black
and white made it nicely archaic and retrospective. Does the black and white
add anything to the play? I am not sure but we get used to it.
But what is missing will you ask?
Just the magic of the Renaissance, the distance in time that is not visible,
hence we feel the stiffness of the nobility too much, especially when some are
courting the maids, which is not courting but rather philandering. It sounds
like “A Sentimental Journey” by Laurence Sterne. Slightly anachronistic.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU