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Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing

Written by William Shakespeare
Performed in English

One of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, tells the stories of two couples. Claudio and Hero are madly in love and agree to marry. Benedick and Beatrice swear that they despise love and treat each other with disdain.

Benedick and Beatrice’s friends can see through their ‘merry war’ of wit and realise that they are ideally suited for each other. They plot to bring them together. However, this tale of secret love, courtship and marriage is intertwined with a darker side of Shakespeare’s Messina, where warfare, deception and serious mischief prevail.

The first performance of Much Ado About Nothing was on 12th February 1998 at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham. The running time was approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes, and included two fifteen minute intervals.

Produced by Cheek by Jowl. Co-produced by Théâtre National de Bretagne and Le Maillon Théâtre de Strasbourg.

“Bold, thoughtful and almost clinical reading of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy”

The New York Times
Cast and creative team


Stephen ManganDon Pedro
Paul GoodwinDon Juan
Bohdan PorajClaudio
Matthew MacfadyenBenedick
Andrew PriceBalthasar/Friar Francis/First Watchman
Justin SalingerBorachio
Mark LaceyConrade
Riz AbbasiMessenger/Second Watchman
Raad RawiLeonato
Ann FirbankUrsula
Sarita ChoudharyHero
Saskia ReevesBeatrice
Zoe AldrichMargaret/Sexton
Derek HutchinsonDogberry
Sam BeazleyVerges

Creative Team

DirectorDeclan Donnellan
DesignerNick Ormerod
Lighting DesignerJudith Greenwood
Movement DirectorJane Gibson
Composer and Music DirectorPaddy Cunneen
Assistant DirectorDan Jemmett
Accent CoachJoan Washington
Voice CoachPatsy Rosenburg
Company Stage ManagerSimon Sturgess
Production ManagerAnthony Alderson
Wardrobe ManagerFiona McCann
Deputy Stage ManagerMike Draper
Previous performances

Previous Performances

6 June–6 August 1998London, Playhouse Theatre, UK
26–27 May 1998Moscow, Maly Theatre, Russia
20–22 May 1998Stockholm, Dramaten, Sweden
11–16 May 1998Reckinghausen, Vestlandhalle, Germany
4–7 May 1998Strasbourg, Le Maillon Théâtre, France
20–28 April 1998Rennes, Theatre Nacional de Bretagne, France
25 March–6 April 1998New York, Majestic Theatre, USA
14–16 March 1998Barcelona, Mercat de les Flors, Spain
10–13 March 1998Darlington, Civic Theatre, UK
3–9 March 1998Sheffield, Lyceum Theatre, UK
24 February–1 March 1998Bath, Theatre Royal, UK
17–23 February 1998Cambridge, Cambridge Arts Theatre, UK
12–16 February 1998Cheltenham, Everyman Theatre, UK


“Bold, thoughtful and almost clinical reading of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy…Along with the elegant inventiveness of staging that has become its trademark, Cheek by Jowl always provides a careful interpretive focus that forces you to reconsider familiar classics.”

The New York Times

“Bubbles over with generosity, theatricality and wit.”

The Observer

“Let me be quite clear: Cheek by Jowl’s Much Ado About Nothing is wonderful. Not only is it constantly surprising and extraordinarily moving, it is full of wonder… You simply feel as if you drink in the play’s living, breathing passion.”

The Independent

“The staging is lucid and fluid , with every member of the ensemble gainfully employed in the task of telling the sex war comedy in a manner that is choreographed without being showy, as tightly bound as a corset and yet still pulsating with life.”

Time Out
Production photo
Photograph: John Haynes
Production photo
Photograph: John Haynes

“Full of wonder… You simply feel as if you drink in the play’s living, breathing passion.”

The Independent

She speaks poniards, and every word stabs.

Act II, scene i

Marriage sunders friends.

Russian proverb

There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.

Man and Superman, George Bernard Shaw

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