Much Ado About Nothing, a riotous play which features the scathing wordplay of the world’s most famous love-hate relationship, Beatrice and Benedick, scored an upset victory over the legendary King Lear in the final round of Folger Theatre’s March Madness tournament, which, like the basketball tournament, ended in April. The margin was 53-47%.
The witty play ascended an upset-strewn ladder, having shockingly defeated Hamlet – generally considered to be Shakespeare’s greatest play – in the semifinals, 55-45.
Much Ado’s path to the crown began with a 90-8 thrashing of All’s Well that Ends Well, the story of a highly intelligent young woman’s inexplicable desire for a disdainful young man. Much Ado then scored a second round 74-36 triumph over the bloody Titus Andronicus, which was Shakespeare’s most popular play during his lifetime. Titus tells the story of a Roman General whose misplaced loyalties to the crown cost him his sons and nearly his sanity until he prepares the ultimate dinner: casserole of jerk.
The popular comedy scored a narrow, upset victory over Macbeth in the third round, 55-45. The Scottish play, also the bard’s shortest play, tells the story of an ambitious general who, having heard a prophecy that he would be King, decided to make the prediction come true in the most bloody way imaginable.
In defeating Macbeth, Hamlet and Lear, Much Ado scored a triple-crown victory over Shakespeare’s most famous work to become the best-loved play in Washington, according to the results of Folger’s tournament.
King Lear, a play initially so unpopular that it was staged only once in Shakespeare’s lifetime, is the second-most popular Shakespeare play in Washington. Until its defeat at the hands of Much Ado, Lear sailed through the Folger brackets.
A ferocious tale, based on historical legend, of a King who released his Kingdom to two daughters while ignoring a third to catastrophic consequences, Lear’s path to supremacy began with a 77-23 thrashing of Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare’s historical romance about the doomed love between the conniving Queen of Egypt and her equally manipulative lover, Marc Antony. Lear thumped The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s tale of a Jew who is stripped of his dignity and threatened with his life for demanding specific performance on a contract, 73-27 in the second round.
Lear had almost as easy a time of it in the third round, blasting The Tempest, generally thought to be the last play Shakespeare wrote by himself, 62-38. In the semifinals, Lear scored a 60-40 triumph over Twelfth Night, a story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man, and who falls in love with her employer even as the woman he is wooing falls in love with her.
Folger’s March Madness attracted 5649 overall votes.