The prince's men stop off at a house on their way back from the wars. The prince's top man Claudio falls for pretty Hero, daughter of the house, and there is much rejoicing. The prince also decides he's going to trick ever-warring Benedict and Beatrice into declaring their love for each other. But the prince's bastard brother hates all this larking about, and plots to bring it all crashing down...
It's, as you'd expect, an energetic and sumptuous version, full of note-perfect performances from the impressive cast. Cassandra from Dr Who vies with the former King Arthur from Spamalot to the amusement of that bloke from Star Wars who says a communications malfunction can only mean invasion, and that bloke who used to run Brookside's neighbourhood watch.
High emotion is rung from the emotional scenes, and the funny stuff is played with great slapstick. There's people hiding in plain sight, an old man struggling to wield a sword twice his size, and some people falling over into... Oh, that would rather spoil it. Mark Addy and Trevor Peacock valiantly try to steal the show in their brief, Act-Two-only roles as Dogberry and Verges.
I especially liked how Zoe Wanamaker's Beatrice clearly always had a thing for Benedict. The Dr felt their bickering was not a million miles from our own. (I think we're more Rod Hull and Grotbags, myself, with Emu as the cat.) She also liked how it's clearly all the fault of the boys.
And we both giggled a lot at the programme's insight into the title of the play.
"But men make a fuss in another sense, for, as Elizabethan slang well knew, women are defined by having no 'thing', or, as Hamlet puts it, nothing is 'a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.' Men's inability to control what women do with their 'nothing' is frequently tormenting for them."
Peter Holland, 'Strange Misprision', in the National Theatre programme for Much Ado About Nothing.