But Beatrice and Benedick are not even the centerpiece of Much Ado; the much-thwarted love affair between Hero (she's rumored to be a whore) and Claudio (a likeable fellow, if a bit gullible) is the main focus of the play. Their affair is stage-managed by various friends and foes, a circumstance that helps Shakespeare skewer the traditions of courtly love, with all its go-betweens and masked assignations. Beatrice and Benedick, who pitch woo by throwing daggers, are the precursor to all the Sam Malone/Diane Chambers and David Addison/Madelyn Hayes pairings of the sitcom generation. Throw in Dogberry, the antecedent for every Coach/Herbert Viola TV's ever had, and you have Shakespeare's best shot at an Emmy. The Washington University Theatre Department presents Much Ado About Nothing at the Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-935-6543) at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday (February 24 through March 5). Tickets are $9 to $15.
Fridays-Sundays. Starts: Feb. 24. Continues through March 5