William Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" is one of the Bard's most popular comedies. First written and performed in 1598 or 1599, it has been performed almost constantly ever since, as generations of great Shakespearean actors and actresses take on the roles of bickering lovers Beatrice and Benedick.
The play was also the basis for one of the most popular film adaptations of Shakespeare of all time: director Kenneth Branagh's 1993 version starring himself, Emma Thompson, and Denzel Washington among others. And in 2012, in between making Avengers movies, director Joss Whedon also made a highly acclaimed film adaptation.
Much of the focus around Much Ado always centres on Beatrice and Benedict, two of Shakespeare's greatest comic creations. But, the quarrelsome duo are actually only supporting characters in the play, and there is a lot of other action happening.
Count Claudio falls in love with Hero, the daughter of his host. Hero's cousin Beatrice (a confirmed spinster) and Benedict (an eternal bachelor) are each duped into believing the other is in love with them. Claudio is deceived by a malicious plot and denounces Hero as unchaste before they marry. She faints and is believed dead, but recovers to be proved innocent by a chance discovery. Benedict wins Beatrice's love defending her cousin's honour, and to his surprise, Claudio is reunited with Hero, who he believed dead.