Much Ado About Nothing - David Scott Kastan, David Bevington, William Shakespeare This is an unfunny comedy. A notable exception is the misuse of words by Dogberry and Verges. I wouldn't even have caught that if not for the explanatory notes on the facing pages. I know I missed it when I saw the stage performance. There are a few humorous moments at the start between Beatrice and Benedick as they trade insults. Other than that, the play is more of a twisted romance. It has many of the same elements as other Shakespeare comedies, but it lacks the playfulness and absurdity of a real comedy like A Midsummer Night's Dream. The introductory notes explain that the word "nothing" was at that time pronounced "noting," making the title a wordplay. "Noting" is eavesdropping, which is what the play is all about. It involves a lot of manipulative people devising elaborate set-ups whereby various other people will overhear information. Is this passive-aggressive behavior? I prefer direct communication. Everyone is at fault here---the so-called friends for setting up the ruses, and the hearers for listening in on private conversations. But Claudio nails the truth in Act 2: "Friendship is constant in all other thingsSave in the office and affairs of love." When it comes to wooing, it's every man for himself. It's interesting how Don John the bastard brother is perceived as the evil one, but he only preys on the idiocy of the people he tricks. As I work my way through Shakespeare's plays, I'm beginning to think he saw the entire male sex as a bunch of dimwits. Else why would they fall for every lie and transparent disguise without questioning or seeking proof? (Think of Othello, completely undone by a stupid hanky.) It's always the women who see clearly and set everything to rights. Maybe Shakespeare simply saw that a man's duplicitous nature makes him automatically assume duplicity in everyone around him. And what's up with Hero being willing to marry Claudio anyway, after he was so quick to believe lies about her? That's not love, that's brain damage!