Illustration of Hero wearing a mask

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

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In act 5, how would you tidy up the plot on stage? Comment on how Shakespeare did that.

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In act 5, how would you tidy up the plot on stage and comment on how Shakespeare did that?

This is a very complex question indeed, because the play is full of loose ends at this point, and to eliminate points of possible onstage confusion/distraction will also eliminate those resolutions. So, I would start by asking "What is my/your goal in this tidying," "What is most important," and "How seriously are we willing to distort the play?"

If we simply wanted things simplified, cut things. Cut some of Dogberry's lines, because as fun as they are, they distract.

If we just want things shorter, cut some of the first scene; we get the sense of mourning soon.

If we simply want to make the stage less cluttered, send Claudio alone to read the proclamation clearing Hero's name (in scene 3).

If we want the focus kept on the key people in the final scene, simply have them move away as they get good news, so that the next couple/speaker is foregrounded.


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