Much Ado About Soup tells the story of Rosemary, a woman in love with her garden, the language of Shakespeare, and a fellow named Potato. Although they’ve never met, Potato is in love with Rosemary as well, even though his friend, Garlic, scoffs at this because he’s never been in love himself. Rosemary confesses her love of Potato to her three sisters (Ginger, Thyme, and Saffron) and later, she tells Potato’s brother, Onion.
Four villainous vegetables (Cabbage, Turnip, Radish, and Mushroom) all appear from behind a hedge where they have been eavesdropping to create a misunderstanding between the two lovers. In the meantime, the narrator, Granny Nutmeg, does her best to guide the audience along, but is frustrated trying to explain the plot and make a batch of homemade chicken noodle soup at the same time. Thankfully, in the end, all the spices and vegetables that truly belong together fall for one another, and the soup of love is served.
A lovely garden with a mixture of plants, trees, flowers, and a high hedge
12 performers, but flexible (see Production Notes)
5 Female, 4 Male, 3 Female or Male
Approximately 45 minutes
Production Notes (included with the playscript)
As you can probably guess, the basic plot of Much Ado About Soup is a spoof of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. For this show, you’ll want to have cast members who are very comfortable with one another on stage since the last scene depends upon couples falling instantly in love. Love scenes can be a bit of a challenge for most middle schoolers, so I kept it to dreamy gazes and some hand holding. In my own experience, when they’re asked to do much more than that, squeamish adolescence tends to kick in and it doesn’t look genuine. All the same, the more starry-eyed and lovesick they can act on stage, the better! So encourage them to really ham it up.
Granny Nutmeg should be played by someone who can pull off a convincing granny voice that is still intelligible to the audience. She is a bit snippy and a little scatter-brained but a lot of fun. She also has, by far, the very longest lines, so make sure your chosen actress is up to some memorizing.
There is a similar dynamic going on between Rosemary and her sister Ginger as there is between Potato and his friend Garlic. One is head-over-heels lovesick, while the other is completely cynical and sarcastic in response. This fact makes it extra fun when Ginger and Garlic change their tune in the end and fall for one another. Onion, meanwhile, will have to master the art of spontaneous blubbering—he’s a sensitive one.
The Villainous Vegetables can be a merry little group behind the hedge, periodically popping their heads up and silently cheering. Cabbage should definitely have a commanding sort of personality, while Mushroom should seem a little reluctant to be a villain at all.
If you find yourself with a smaller group than what the cast size calls for, you can certainly drop a villainous vegetable or two and either skip their lines, or have the remaining villains say their lines. If you have a few more kids that you need roles for, then you can certainly add villains with vegetable names. Rutabaga, Fennel, and Asparagus would be great additions. Give them a line or two each, and you’ll have an extra-large group of mischief makers huddled up behind the hedge.
There’s any number of creative things you can do with the stage to make it look like a garden—potted plants, fake flowers, etc. A trip to your local thrift store or some creative crafters should be able to take care of your needs. Just be sure to construct a hedge that is tall enough to hide your group of Villainous Vegetables, but not so tall that their heads can’t be seen when they stand up and cheer. Cardboard, foam bricks, or plywood would all be great options for materials to create the hedge. There are very few props in this play, and all are common household items or kitchen tools.
If you plan on performing my other Shakespearean spoof, Midsummer Night’s Spaghetti, then you will want to hold onto your stage pieces. That play is set in a garden as well, so you can utilize any of the pieces you created for this production in that one!
This entire play could be performed in rather ordinary clothing—dresses on the girls and pants and shirts on the boys. However, I have seen it done with the boys wearing large-size cardboard cut-outs of their respective vegetable around their necks and the girls wearing wreaths made of greenery on their heads. Granny Nutmeg looks best in a granny outfit, complete with glasses, gray hair, and an apron.
You could also use color to your advantage. With the Spice Sisters, Rosemary could be in a dark green, Ginger in a soft orange, Thyme in a light green, and Saffron in a vibrant yellow. With the boys, Potato, Garlic, and Onion could all be in white. It also might be fun to put the Villainous Vegetables in tie-dye, just to emphasize their mischievous, playful nature.
In keeping with the spirit of the play, you may want to track down some sweets that have some spices and herbs incorporated in. Rosemary scones, gingerbread, lemon thyme bars, nutmeg cookies, and saffron biscuits would all be terrific options. In addition, you may even want to add some vegie platters with dips. With this particular play, a mixture of sweet and savory treats would be perfectly appropriate.
Much Ado About Soup can certainly be a fun show all by itself, but you might consider turning it into a supper show with the theme being “soup.” See “Serve up a Supper with your Shakespeare” on the Fundraiser Play Ideas page for some advice.
Each playscript comes as a downloadable PDF document, and includes an extensive Production Notes section to help with all aspects of the production, as well as an invaluable Organizational Grid with each character’s costume suggestion and any props needed.
With purchase, you are granted the right to copy this script as needed for amateur performances for a period of one year from the date of purchase. More information on the Copyright page.