Much Ado About Nothing in Shakespeare's Globe Shop

Much Ado About Nothing in Shakespeare's Globe Shop

One of Shakespeare's most popular and raucous comedies, Much Ado about Nothing contrasts the spiky relationship between Beatrice and Benedick (neither will admit their love for the other) with the rosy happiness of the very-much-in-love Claudio and Hero. There are shenanigans, mistaken identities, tricky, pathos, and tragedy but in the end (spoiler alert) everyone does end up with the person they were meant to be with.

Green and yellow repeating pattern with graphic text

2011: Two-tone Topiary

The first bespoke Much Ado About Nothing range for the Globe shop was created for the 2011 production starring Eve Best as Beatrice and Charles Edwards as Benedick. One of the main settings for the play are the gardens of a grand estate, and the 2011 design took inspiration from this. The title of the play is picked out in green lettering, made to look like stylised hedging, on a ground of yellow flowers with ornamental topiary above – a nod to Elizabethan knot gardens. The colours are limited to greens and yellow and Beatrice and Benedick are suggested by lips and a beauty spot for her and a moustache for him, peaking from between the topiary.

Olive green and black leaves with pale pink and purple with white graphic text overlaid

2020: A Cancelled Production

Much Ado About Nothing was due to appear on the Globe stage again in 2020, but unfortunately the 2020 summer season had to be cancelled as the world went into lockdown. As we tend to develop our summer season ranges six months ahead of time, the artwork for the 2020 production had already been completed and so had to be shelved.

The artwork again took inspiration from the estate gardens but this time Beatrice and Bendick were represented by the prickly leaves of briar rose and bramble, intertwined with flowers which would have been common to the Elizabethan gardener – violas, geraniums, and roses. A crow’s skull lends a little bit of dark to the design and references Beatrice’s insistence that she would “rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me” (act 1, scene1) as well as a passing nod to Shakespeare, the ‘upstart crow’. The main quote across the centre of the image was “some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps” (act 3, scene 2), reflects the complex and often capricious nature of Beatrice and Benedick’s romantic relationship.

Pen drawn historical gentleman in doublet and tights with gold scratchy text overlaid

2022: Revival and Beards

Much Ado About Nothing did finally make its way back to the stage in 2022 with a production set in 1940’s Italy. This time the play stared Lucy Phelps as Beatrice and Ralph Davies as Benedick in a production described as ‘simply delightful… There’s magic in the air during this production’ by Broadway World. The artwork for this production range was inspired by a throw-away comment from our Retail Manager, Raj (who sports a very impressive beard). Raj thought that it was time to create a t-shirt just for the men who visit us and that the quote “he who has no beard is less than a man” (act 2, scene 1) would be a fun one to use.

The design uses an etching of a man in Elizabethan dress who looks rather surprised and not a little put-out to find himself on Globe merchandise! He has a rather neat beard, very much the fashion at the Elizabethan court, along with his ruff, hose, and jerkin. The quote was hand-drawn in ink before being scanned in and digitised for printing. The carelessness of the quote contrasts nicely with the precise nature of the etching. We went with the same dusty pink and olive-green colours of the 2020 artwork, which allowed us to mix the two design to create a coherent range.

Black banner with red graphic text and stars framing, surrounded by black graphic text

2024: 1990s Tabloid Headlines

Much Ado About Nothing will once again grace the Globe Theatre stage in the summer of 2024. This time our designer was inspired by the latest retro trends for a return to the fashions of the 1990’s. The design is meant to look rather like a headline in a tabloid newspaper, with a faded starry sky in black and slightly off-registration lettering in tabloid red. This time we’ve used a lovely quote spoken by Beatrice about her birth, “there was a star danced and under that was I born” (act 2, scene 1) but it looks very contemporary (in contrast to the startled gentleman of 2022).

Why not stick with one design? It’s fun to reinterpret Shakespeare’s plays! When we develop the merchandise that will appear alongside a Globe Theatre production, we don’t yet know how the play on stage will be styled, so we only have the wonderful words of Shakespeare to offer inspiration. We also have many returning patrons and visitors who like to be able to purchase a new design each time they visit. Hopefully 2024’s range will prove as popular as those from previous years.

Shop our Much Ado About Nothing collection

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