How has Leonato’s Household been represented and staged?
All the action in Much Ado about Nothing takes place in and around Leonato’s house in Messina. Messina is the city where Don Pedro and his soldiers have returned to from war and Leonato invites them into his home.
Take a look at the Things to Consider and investigate the different ways we’ve staged Leonato’s Household in past productions in this picture gallery. There is also the opportunity to investigate Act 1 Scene 1 in more detail, to see how the opening scene set in Leonato's house could be staged.
Investigate Act 1 Scene 1
As you look through the images and photographs from past productions of Much Ado about Nothing, think about:
- How the soldiers change the atmosphere when they arrive. What has the war been like for them? Are they exhausted, celebrating, injured? What comforts does Leonato’s house provide? Is it luxurious? Has it been decorated to celebrate their return?
- Whether some productions are very different or if there are lots of similarities. In the 2015 production, director Christopher Luscombe set the play in the aftermath of World War 1 and worked with the design team to create a set for Leonato’s house that was based on Charlecote Park, a National Trust stately home near Stratford-upon-Avon. What effect do you think this has? What does it tell us about Leonato and his family? What impression does his home give of Leonato and what roles do Hero and Beatrice play in it? Does this seem different in the 2012 production, set in India, or the 2006 production set in Havana?
- What kind of place Messina is. In the 2002 production, directed by Gregory Doran, Messina is a hot, summery, Italian city. Similarly in the 2006 production, Leonato’s household is situated in a warm climate, in Cuba. Does this have an impact on the action or make characters’ choices more understandable? How does it change the feeling of the play when it is set, as in the images from the 2014 production, on a cold English estate at Christmas time?
Where would you choose to set a production of Much Ado about Nothing and what choices would you make to help show the dynamics of Leonato’s household and the impact of the soldiers’ arrival?