Sixty-Minute Shakespeare: Much Ado About
By Cass Foster
Five Star Publications
I was never very fond of Shakespeare, with his archaic language and complicated
plots that seemed to go on forever. And, while I can still recite parts of Lady MacBeth's soliloquy, compliments of a drama
class many (many) years ago, I wouldn't list the great author's works among my favorites to read. Cass Foster has set about
to change that with his new series Sixty-Minute Shakespeare. While his versions of the great classics are unchanged
in their Old English language and intricate plots, he has successfully shortened the plays to foster accessibility for readers
such as myself.
The Sixty-Minute Shakespeare series is written with an eye toward the theater.
Whether used for scene work in a drama class or as a fully staged production, each play contains staging tips for scenery
and pacing. For the classroom teacher or even the avid learner, the books also include images and themes from Shakespeare's
works, related websites, and a liberal sprinkling of footnotes throughout each play to explain and/or define the archaic terminology.
"Much Ado About Nothing," one of several plays in the series, follows
Cass' unique format. The plot, while shortened to an hour runtime (if performed) still tells the story of Claudio, Hero and
Don John. When Don John tricks Claudio into believing that his love, Hero, has been unfaithful, he leaves her. Hero's father,
upon learning the truth, manipulates Claudio into reuniting with his beloved. Woven into this is the compelling love story
between Beatrice and Benedick, tricked by friends into loving each other, only to realize that their feelings for one another
were there from the start.
The Sixty-Minute Shakespeare series is the perfect compromise for readers
wishing to enjoy the brilliance of a true master without spending hours with each play. It is also ideal for the teacher desiring
to introduce his/her students to the same experience within the limited time frame of a classroom. On several levels, Sixty-Minute
Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" is a GREAT READ.
Marcia Berneger--Muse Book Reviewer