ACT 1 Scene 1:
· Leonato, the governor of Messina, is hanging around his house with his daughter, Hero and his niece, Beatrice. Leonato chats with a messenger about some news: Don Pedro, the Prince of Arragon and friend of Leonato, has just finished up some battling and is on his way to stay at Leonato’s house this very evening.
· There’s some more bantering at poor Benedick’s expense, and Leonato makes clear that the war of wits between Beatrice and Benedick is an ongoing battle.
· Beatrice disrespects Benedick more.
· Just then, Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon, enters with Claudio, Benedick, an attendant named Balthasar, and Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother, Don John.
· Don Pedro and Leonato banter and are generally happy to see each other, which is more than we can say for Beatrice and Benedick.
· Don Pedro announces that Leonato has invited him, Claudio, and Benedick to stay with Leonato for at least a month, which will be ample time for drama to develop.
· Leonato also personally welcomes Don John, who seems to have recently reconciled with his brother Don Pedro.
· The young Claudio reveals that he’s been smitten by Leonato’s daughter, Hero.
· Don Pedro promises Claudio will have Hero (and this plot promises to be interesting).
ACT 1 Scene 2:
· Leonato chats with his brother, Antonio, who is nearly bursting with gossip. Antonio reports that one of his men overheard Don Pedro and Claudio talking in the enclosed garden area.
· Antonio reports that his man heard Don Pedro declare his love for Hero, and his intention to reveal his love for Hero that night. If Hero accepts Don Pedro’s love, then Don Pedro will tell Leonato right away, so they can be married. (Of course, the man did hear Don Pedro say he'll woo Hero that night, but he missed the whole part where Don Pedro will be wooing on Claudio’s behalf.)
· Leonato decides he’ll spring this news on Hero, so she can be prepared to deliver an answer.
ACT 1 Scene 3:
· Don John (Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother) meets with Conrade (his attendant). Don John is being his usual negative self, and Conrade tries to placate him with platitudes.
· Like any good villain, Don John points out that he acts like a villain because he is a villain, and he doesn’t care whether he’s hated. Then he strokes his standard villain-issued white cat.
· Don John doesn’t deny, though, that his brother’s precautions are reasonable ones, as he would like to do some mischief as soon as he gets the chance.
· Borachio enters and delivers to Don John news of an impending marriage.
· Borachio heard Claudio and Don Pedro approach, deep in conversation.
· Borachio got the gist of the conversation correctly about Don Pedro’s plan to court Hero on Claudio’s behalf.