Friday, November 14, 2008

Much ado about sadness

One of my favourite scenes in Much Ado About Nothing is when Don Pedro and Beatrice have a small conversation after Claudio first gains the hand of Hero.

Beatrice: Good Lord for alliance! Thus goes everyone to the world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a corner and cry 'heigh-ho!' for a husband.
Don Pedro: Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
Beatrice: I would rather have one of your father's getting. Hath your grace not a brother like you? Your father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.
Don Pedro: Will you have me, lady?
Beatrice: [pauses] No, my lord, unless I might have another for working-days. Your Grace is too costly to wear everyday. But I beseech your Grace to pardon me; for I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.
Don Pedro: Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in a merry hour.

I find this poignant, especially played the way that Denzel Washington and Emma Thompson do. The impression conveyed is that Don Pedro suddenly moves from banter to seriousness and catches her off-guard. She is surprised and tries to let him down easy, and he is hurt, but doesn't press the point. It works well, I think, because Don Pedro spends the play working to bring others together and ends up without a wife himself.