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Career > > 1968 > Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing

October 14, 1968 | The Royal Shakespeare Company
Directed by: Trevor Nunn | Literature: William Shakespeare | Costume Design: Christopher Morley | Production Design: Christopher Morley | Music: Guy Woolfenden
The war is over. Pedro Prince of Aragon (Norman Rodway), with his followers Benedick (Alan Howard) and Claudio (Bernard Lloyd), visits Leonato (Sebastian Shaw), Duke of Messina, father of Hero (Helen Mirren) and uncle of Beatrice (Janet Suzman). Claudio falls in love with Hero and their marriage is agreed upon. Beatrice and Benedick despise love and engage in comic banter. The others plot to make them fall in love with each other, by a trick in which Benedick will overhear his friends talking of Beatrice's supposed secret love for him, and vice versa.
Cast: Janet Suzman (Beatrice), Alan Howard (Benedick), Norman Rodway/Anthony Bate (Don Pedro), Terrence Hardiman/Clifford Rose (Don John), Helen Mirren (Hero), Bernard Lloyd (Claudio), David Waller (Dogberry), Sebastian Shaw (Leonato), George Cormack (Antonio), Patrick Stewart (Borachio), Ben Kingsley (Conrade), Julian Curry (Friar Francis), Richard Simpson (Sexton), Clifford Rose/Richard Simpson (Verges), Susan Fleetwood/Sara Kestelman (Margaret), Rowena Cooper (Ursula), John Shrapnel (Balthasar), Bruce Myers (First Watch), Peter Gordon (Second Watch) Gareth Thomas (Soldier)

Production Notes

Alan Howard and Janet Suzman played Benedick and Beatrice, with a memorable Hero played by the young Helen Mirren. The colourful sixteenth-century costumes gave an extra edge to the dancing in Act 2, where the men appeared, disguised in commedia dell’arte masks and flourishing swords for the mock-military dance. The swords would, of course, be put to more serious use later in the play. At the end of the play, an isolated Don Pedro drew on his gauntlets with great deliberation as if to prepare for his return to the battlefield. As the Coventry Evening Telegraph noted in its review (October 15, 1968): “Bernard Lloyd gave a tender, smooth performance as the love-struck Claudio, and Helen Mirren, as Hero, was as coy and virginal as the part demanded.”

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