Much Ado About Not(h)ing explores what 21st century society takes most note of. Do we take note of the people and events that occur around us in the ‘mortal world’ or the ‘digital world’ of our mobile phone?
Audience members are invited to turn ON their mobile phones during the performance so they can choose between viewing the live performance presented by the actors onstage or the live digital performance that they can access through Facebook on their mobile phones (or a little of both), thus actively immersing the audience in the dilemma the production is trying to explore.
Joan Don and her half-brother, Pedro Don, have just returned from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan. Ancient grudge has broken to new mutiny upon the recent death of their father, from whom Joan has been estranged since childhood. In response to his guilt-ridden father’s last request, Pedro is attempting to build a relationship with his half-sister Joan. Meanwhile, Pedro’s godfather, Mayor of London Leonato Elliott, tries to support his godson through this time of grief and reconciliation by inviting him and Joan, along with Pedro’s band of brothers from his platoon, Claudio and Benedick, to a welcome home celebration with his daughter Hero, niece Beatrice and sister Ursula, who is waiting to hear from her husband, Sean, who has been injured in Afghanistan.
An intriguing exploration of the connections between the turmoil caused by the events of this romantic tragicomedy and the evolution of social media. Frequent ‘noting’ of social media and technology is the root of some troubles that people experience in their relationships today, and is reflected in the obstacles between the characters in this play. During the English Renaissance, ‘noting’ (meaning rumour or overhearing) sounded very similar to ‘nothing’, used in the title of the play. It’s through noting that Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into professing their love for each other and by founding his belief on nothing, Claudio is tricked into refusing to marry Hero. This word play has inspired the unusual title for this production, Much Ado About Not(h)ing, the use of the parenthesis indicating that the ‘h’ in the word ‘nothing’ can be retained or deleted: noting or nothing.
Digital projection, movement and dance are also integrated to present visually elements of Shakespeare’s text, as well as music to heighten moments of emotional joy or turmoil by converting selected Shakespearean text into lyrics for original music.
Much Ado About Not(h)ing is at The Cockpit 20th – 22nd June 2019.