After a period of war, Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, has successfully concluded a peace with his bastard brother, Don John. Arriving at the house of Leonato in Messina, Don Pedro and his retinue turn their thoughts from war to love, and a happy match is foreseen between Claudio, one of Don Pedro's men, and Hero, Leonato's daughter.
At the same time, a plan is afoot to bring about a more unlikely pairing. Whilst Benedick and Beatrice are engaged in a stubborn battle of wit and will, Don Pedro seeks to unite the two as lovers.
Meanwhile, the satanic presence of Don John, avenging himself on his brother, seeks to divide the fragile love of Hero and Claudio. Friar Francis, Dogberry and his night watch are left in the middle to make the peace.