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A modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.
Benedick: I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is that not strange?
Benedick: Hah. The Prince, and Monsieur Love.
Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick. Nobody marks you. Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain. Are you yet living? Beatrice: Is't possible Disdain should die whilst she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to Disdain when you come in her presence.
Benedick: By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me. Beatrice: Do not swear by it and eat it. Benedick: I will swear by it that you love me, and I will make him eat it that says I love not you.
Benedick: O, she misused me past the endurance of a block. She told me, not thinking I had been myself, that I was the Prince's jester, and that I was duller than a great thaw, huddling jest upon jest, with such impossible conveyance upon me, that I stood like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me. She speaks poniards, and every word stabs. If her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her, she would infect to the North star. So indeed all disquiet, horror, and perturbation follows her. Don Pedro: Look, here she comes. Benedick: Will your Grace command me any service to the world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on. I will fetch you a hair off the great Cham's beard, do you any embassage to the Pygmies, rather then hold three words conference with this Harpy. You have no employment for me? Don Pedro: None but to desire your good company. Benedick: O God, sir, here's a dish I love not. I cannot endure my lady Tongue.
Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks you. Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living? Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence. Benedick: Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none. Beatrice: A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me. Benedick: God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate scratched face. Beatrice: Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such a face as yours were. Benedick: Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher. Beatrice: A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours. Benedick: I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer. But keep your way, i' God's name; I have done. Beatrice: You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.
Beatrice: Is Signior Mountanto returned from the wars or no? Messenger: I know none of that name, lady. Hero: My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua. Messenger: Oh, he's returned and as pleasant as ever he was. Beatrice: I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? For indeed I promised to eat all of his killing. Messenger: He hath done good service and a good soldier too, lady. Beatrice: And a good soldier to a lady. But what is he to a lord? Messenger: A lord to a lord. A man to a man, stuffed with all honorable virtues. Beatrice: It is so, indeed. He is no less than a stuffed man. Leonato: You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her. They never meet, but there's a skirmish of wit between them. Beatrice: Who is his companion now? He hath every month a new sworn brother. Messenger: He is most in the company of the right and noble Claudio. Beatrice: O lord! He will hang upon him like a disease. He is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! If he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cured. Messenger: I will keep friends with you, lady. Beatrice: [Chuckles] Do, good friend. Leonato: You will never run mad, niece. Beatrice: No, not till a hot January.
[first lines] Beatrice: Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more. Men were deceivers ever. One foot in sea and one on shore, to one thing constant never. Then sigh not so but let them go and be you blithe and bonny, converting all your sounds of woe into hey nonny nonny.
Beatrice: He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man. And he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man - I am not for him.
Beatrice: Kill Claudio. Benedick: Not for the wide world. Beatrice: You kill me to deny it. Fare thee well. Benedick: Tarry, sweet Beatrice. Beatrice: I am gone, though I am here. There is no love in you. Nay, I pray you, let me go. Benedick: Beatrice! Beatrice: In faith, I will go. Benedick: We'll be friends first. Beatrice: You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy. Benedick: Is Claudio thine enemy? Beatrice: [Yelling/sobbing] Is he not approved in the height of a villain that hath slandered, scorned, dishonored my kinswoman? O, that I were a man! What bear her in hand until they come to take hands and then, with public accusation uncovered slander, [pushes table over] Beatrice: unmitigated rancor... O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace! Benedick: Hear me, Beatrice. Beatrice: Talk with man out at a window. A proper saying! Benedick: Nay, but, Beatrice... Beatrice: Sweet Hero. She is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone! Benedick: Beatrice! Beatrice: He is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and swears it. [Falls to knees] Beatrice: I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving. Benedick: By this hand, I love thee. Beatrice: Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it. Benedick: Think you in your soul that Count Claudio hath wronged Hero? Beatrice: Yea. As sure as I have a thought or a soul. Benedick: Enough. I am engaged. I will challenge him. Go. Comfort your cousin. I must say she is dead. And so, farewell.
Beatrice: O God, that I were a man. I would eat his heart in the market-place.
Benedick: Do not you love me? Beatrice: Why no; no more than reason. Benedick: Why then your uncle, the Prince and Claudio have been deceived; they swore you did. Beatrice: Do not you love me? Benedick: Why no; no more than reason. Beatrice: Why then my cousin, Margaret and Ursula are much deceived, for they did swear you did. Benedick: They swore you were almost sick for me. Beatrice: They swore you were well-nigh dead for me. Benedick: 'Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me? Beatrice: No, truly, but in friendly recompense.
Benedick: A miracle. Here's our own hands against our hearts. Come, I will have thee, but by this light I take thee for pity. Beatrice: I would not deny you, but by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption. Benedick: Peace. I will stop your mouth.
Benedick: I pray thee now tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me? Beatrice: For them all together, which maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them: but for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me? Benedick: Suffer love. a good epithet, I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will. Beatrice: In spite of your heart, I think. Alas poor heart, if you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours, for I will never love that which my friend hates Benedick: Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.
Beatrice: I pray you, who is his companion now? He hath every month a new sworn brother. Messenger: He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio. Beatrice: O lord, he will hang upon him like a disease. He is sooner caught than the pestilence and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio. If he have caught the Benedick, 'twill cost him a thousand pound ere he be cured.
Beatrice: Against my will, I am sent to bid you come into dinner. Benedick: Fair Beatrice, thank you for your pains. Beatrice: I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me. If it had been painful, I would not have come. Benedick: You take pleasure then in the message? Beatrice: Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's point. You have no stomach, signor? Fare you well. Benedick: Ha. "Against my will I am sent to bid you come into dinner." There's a double meaning in that.
[hearing guitar music] Benedick: Is it not strange that sheeps guts should hale souls out of men's bodies?
Messenger: He has done good service, and a good soldier too, lady. Beatrice: And a good soldier TO a lady. But what is he to a lord? Messenger: A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed with all honorable virtues. Beatrice: 'Tis so indeed. He is no less than a stuffed man.
Benedick: Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice? Beatrice: [Pushed out of crowd by Antonio. Removes veil, clears throat] I answer to that name. [Appraoches Benedick] Beatrice: What is your will? Benedick: Do not you love me? Beatrice: Why, no. No more than reason. Benedick: Well, then your Uncle, the prince and Claudio have been deceived. They swore you did. Beatrice: Do not you love me? Benedick: Why, no. No more than reason. Beatrice: Why, then my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula are much deceived for they swear you did. Benedick: They swore you were almost sick for me. Beatrice: They swore you well nigh dead for me. Benedick: 'Tis no such matter. Then... you... do not love me? Beatrice: No, truly, but in friendly recompense. [Shakes Benedick's hand] Leonato: Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman. Claudio: I'll be sworn upon he loves her, for here's a paper written in his hand a halting sonnet of his own pure brain, fashioned to Beatrice. Hero: And here's another... Beatrice: No! [Slaps Hero's hand] Hero: ...writ in my cousin's hand, stolen from her pocket containing her affection unto Benedick. Benedick: A miracle! Here's our own hands against our hearts. Come, I will have thee. But, by this light, I take thee for pity. Beatrice: I would not deny you. But, by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption. Benedick: Peace! I will stop your mouth. [Kisses Beatrice]
Benedick: Serve God, Love me, and mend.
Conrade: You are an ass, you are an ass. Dogberry: Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass. But masters, remember that I am an ass: though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.
Benedick: [Looking at the veiled women] Where is the lady Beatrice? Beatrice: [pause, and she undoes her veil hesitantly] I answer to that name.
Beatrice: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
Ursula: Madam! Benedick: Here comes one in haste. Ursula: You must come to your uncle. Yonder's old coil at home. It is proved my lady Hero hath been falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily abused and Don John is the author of all, who is fled and gone. Will you come, presently? Beatrice: Will you go hear this news, signior? Benedick: I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap and be buried in thy eyes, and moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle's. Beatrice: [laughs]
Benedick: Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while? Beatrice: Yea... and I will weep a while longer. Benedick: I will not desire that. Beatrice: You have no reason. I do it freely. Benedick: Surely, I do believe your fair cousin is wronged. Beatrice: How much might the man deserve of me that would right her! Benedick: Is there any way to show such friendship? Beatrice: A very even way, but no such friend. Benedick: May a man do it? Beatrice: It is a man's office... but not yours. Benedick: I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange? Beatrice: As strange as the thing I know not. It were as possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you. But believe me not. And yet I lie not. I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin. Benedick: By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me. Beatrice: Do not swear, and eat it. Benedick: I will swear by it that you love me, and I will make him eat it that says I love not you. Beatrice: Why, then, God forgive me! Benedick: What offense, sweet Beatrice? Beatrice: You have stayed me in a happy hour. I was about to protest I loved you. Benedick: And do it with all thy heart. Beatrice: I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest. Benedick: [Kisses Beatrice] Come. Bid me do anything for thee. Beatrice: Kill Claudio.
Claudio: Can the world buy such a jewel? Benedick: Yea, and a case to put it into.
Hero: Nature never framed a woman's heart of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice - disdain and scorne ride sparkling in her eyes.
Benedick: When I said I would die a bachelor I didn't think I would live long enough till I were married.
Friar Francis: Come, lady: die to live.
Benedick: He is in love. With who? That is your grace's part. With Hero, Leonato's short daughter.
Benedick: That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks: but that I will hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. I will live a bachelor.
Dogberry: Thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this.
Don Pedro: I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love. Benedick: With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord. Not with love.
Leonato: You will never run mad, niece. Beatrice: No, not till a hot January.
Dogberry: Are you good men and true? All: Yea. Dogberry: Being chosen for the Prince's watch. This is your charge: You are to bid any man stand, in the prince's name. Francis Seacole: How if a' will not stand? Dogberry: Why, then take no note of him, but let him go. Verges: If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the prince's subjects. Dogberry: True. and we are to meddle with none but the prince's subjects. You shall also make no noise in the streets. George Seacole: We will rather sleep than talk. Dogberry: Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet watchman, for I cannot see how sleeping should offend.
Claudio: Friendship is constant in all other things, save in the office and affairs of love.
Don Pedro: Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it. Leonato: Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your grace.
Leonato: By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue. Antonio: In faith, she's too curst.
Don John: I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause and smile at no man's jests, eat when I have stomach and wait for no man's leisure, sleep when I am drowsy and tend on no man's business, laugh when I am merry and claw no man in his humour. Conrade: Yea, but you must not make the full show of this till you may do it without controlment. You have of late stood out against your brother, and he hath ta'en you newly into his grace; where it is impossible you should take true root but by the fair weather that you make yourself: it is needful that you frame the season for your own harvest. Don John: I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace, in this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.
Leonato: For there was never yet philosopher that could endure the tooth-ache patiently.
Leonato: Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?
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. Beatrice: No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born... [Beatrice exits] Don Pedro: By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.
Don Pedro: Thou wilt be like a lover presently, and tire the hearer with a book of words.
Don John: Even she- Leonato's Hero, Your Hero: every man's Hero.
Beatrice: Why then, God forgive me. Benedick: What offence, sweet Beatrice? Beatrice: You have stayed me in a happy hour, I was about to protest I loved you. Benedick: And do it, with all thy heart. Beatrice: I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to protest.
Benedick: I would my horse had the speed of your tongue.
Leonato: Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast killed my child! If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man. Antonio: He shall kill two of us, and men indeed. But that's no matter, let him kill one first. I'll whip you from your foining fence. Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will. Leonato: Brother... Antonio: Content yourself. God knows I loved my niece. And she is dead, slandered to death by villains scrambling, outfacing, fashion-monging boys that lie, and cog and flout, deprave and slander... Leonato: Brother Antony. Antonio: 'Tis no matter. Do not you meddle. Let me deal in this. Don Pedro: Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience. My heart is sorry for your daughter's death, but, on my honor, she was charged with nothing but what was true and very full of proof. Leonato: My lord... Don Pedro: I will not hear you. Leonato: No? Come, brother, away. I will be heard. Antonio: And shall, or some of us will smart for it. [Both depart] Don Pedro: [Benedick approaches] See, here comes the man we went to seek. Claudio: Now, signior, what news? Benedick: Good day, my lord. Don Pedro: Welcome, signior. You are almost come to part almost a fray. Claudio: We had like to have our two noses snapped off with two old men without teeth. Benedick: Shall I speak a word in your ear? [Grabs Claudio and holds against wall] Benedick: You are a villain. I jest not. I will make it good how dare you and when you dare. Do me right, or I will protest your cowardice. You have killed a sweet lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you. Fare you well, boy. You know my mind. [Releases Claudio and approaches Don Pedro] Benedick: My lord, for your many courtesies I thank you. I must discontinue your company. Your brother is fled from Messina. You have among you killed a sweet and innocent lady. For my Lord Lackbeard there, he and I shall meet. Till then peace be with him. [Departs] Don Pedro: He is in earnest. Claudio: In most profound earnest. Don Pedro: And hath challenged thee. Claudio: Most sincerely.
Claudio: Done to death by slanderous tongues, was the Hero that here lies: Death, in guerdon of her wrongs, gives her fame which never dies. So the life that died with shame lives in death with glorious fame.
Benedick: I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange? Beatrice: As strange as the thing I know not. It were as possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you: but believe me not; and yet I lie not; I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.
Dogberry: A good old man, sir; he will be talking: as they say, when the age is in, the wit is out: God help us! it is a world to see. Well said, i' faith, neighbour Verges: well, God's a good man; an two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest soul, i' faith, sir; by my troth he is, as ever broke bread; but God is to be worshipped; all men are not alike; alas, good neighbour! Leonato: Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.
Leonato: Being that I flow in grief, the smallest twine may lead me.
Dogberry: Were I as tedious as a king, I could find it in my heart to bestow it all on Your Worship. Leonato: All thy tediousness on me?
Claudio: Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato? Benedick: I noted her not; but I looked on her. Claudio: Is she not a modest young lady? Benedick: Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment; or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex? Claudio: No; I pray thee speak in sober judgment. Benedick: Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise and too little for a great praise: only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her. Claudio: Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me truly how thou likest her. Benedick: Would you buy her, that you inquire after her? Claudio: Can the world buy such a jewel? Benedick: Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad brow? Claudio: In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on. Benedick: I can see yet without spectacles and I see no such matter: there's her cousin, an she were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of May doth the last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you? Claudio: I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife. Benedick: Is't come to this? Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score again?
Benedick: They say the lady is fair, 'tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous, 'tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me - by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly; for I will be horribly in love with her.
Conrade: [Screaming at Dobgerry] You are an ass! You are an ASS!
Benedick: [hearing Balthazar sing] An he had been a dog that should have howled thus, they would have hanged him
Claudio: Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little happy if I could say how much.
Beatrice: [suggesting Satan would greet her spirit with] Get thee to heaven, Beatrice, get thee to heaven. Hell's no place for maids.
Don Pedro: Will you have me, lady? Beatrice: No, my lord, unless I might have another for working days. Your grace is too costly to wear everyday.
Benedick: Love me! Why?
Dogberry: And Master, sir, do not forget to specify, when time and place shall assert, that I am an ass.
Conrade: You must hear reason, my lord. Don John: And having heard it, what blessing brings it?
Benedick: Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humor? No. The world must be peopled.
Beatrice: Kill Claudio!
Benedick: [Has been standing in front of the mirror, improving his looks, but stop when he notices the others' amusement] Gallants! I am not as I have been! Leonato: So say I. Me thinks you are sadder! [He and the other three start laughing again] Claudio: I hope he be in love! Leonato, Antonio, and Pedro: Ooohhh! Benedick: [Turns indignantly to Leonato] Good signor, walk aside with me. I have studied eight or nine wise words to speak to you which these hoppy horses must not hear! [Leaves with Leonato and Antonio, provoking more laughter from Claudio and Pedro] Don Pedro: Oh my life! To break with him about Beatrice!
Leonato: Are you yet determined to marry with my brother's daughter? [Claudio nods] Leonato: Call her forth, brother. Here's the friar ready. [Four veiled ladies are presented] Claudio: Which is the lady I must seize upon? Antonio: [Brings forth one lady] This same is she and I do give you her. Claudio: Sweet, let me see your face. Leonato: No, that you shall not till you take her hand before this friar and swear to marry her. Claudio: [Kneels] Give me your hand, before this holy friar. I am your husband if you like of me. Hero: [Removes veil] Don Pedro: Hero that is dead. Leonato: She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived. Hero: And when I lived, I was your other wife. And when you loved you were my other husband. One Hero died defiled, but I do live and surely as I live, I am a maid.
Beatrice: My cousin tells him in his ear, that he is in her heart. Claudio: And so she does, cousin.
Hero: [discussing Don John] He is of a very melancholy disposition.
Don Pedro of Aragon: Officers, what offense have these men done? Dogberry: Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly; they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves. Don Pedro of Aragon: What is your offense, masters? This learned constable is too cunning to be understood.
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