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Rolin Jones, left, and Billie Joe Armstrong on Opening Night. Photo by Jordan Strauss.

Rolin Jones, left, and Billie Joe Armstrong on Opening Night. Photo by Jordan Strauss.

Review Roundup: "These Paper Bullets"

Mods, miniskirts, music and more champagne-quaffing and quaalude-popping than the opening night of Studio 54 — the fizzy, funny West Coast premiere of These Paper Bullets! opened the Geffen Playhouse’s 20th anniversary season last week with a bang.

Pulitzer Prize-finalist Rolin Jones adapted Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing by setting it in London’s swingin’ ’60s. Add to that all new, absolutely stunning songs written by Billie Joe Armstrong and direction by Jones’ longtime collaborator, Jackson Gay, and you have a frothy, laugh-out-loud good time. (We practically danced out of the theater, and we weren’t alone.)

But don’t take our word for it …

Shakespeare meets the Beatles in lively These Paper Bullets!
Bille Joe Armstrong, returning to the theater after his success with the musical American Idiot, has written a few pastiche songs for the occasion that are touched by his brilliance. This isn’t a musical but a comedy infused with some deftly calibrated tunes. Rolin Jones, a playwright best known for his sprightly drama The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow and a television writer whose credits include Weeds, Friday Night Lights and Boardwalk Empire, is the principal creator here, and he has a field day translating Shakespeare into a new idiom. … Shakespeare’s tale of brutalized love miraculously restored shines through in all its moving majesty. Continue reading here …

These Paper Bullets! Captures 1964 Nostalgia at Geffen
Rolin Jones’ sense of humor throughout is broad, cheeky and terribly entertaining. …Under Jackson Gay’s superior staging, the ensemble are dynamite from top to bottom. Parker is delicious as Beatrice. An expert physical comedienne, she is a delight in the scene in which she overhears gossip about Ben’s loving her, and her big cake scene is full of anguish, frustration and confusion. Continue reading here …

These Paper Bullets over the top, absolutely charming
Simply put, this thing works. … Lighthearted and funny, it also shows off the talent of Armstrong, who has found the tonalities and structures of Beatles tunes and melded them with some of his own signature sensibilities to create charming new songs that unify the show’s various elements and create the flow from scene to scene. This one is most definitely worth seeing, though it’s not a show for kids. Continue reading here …

About the best way to communicate my absolute, unalloyed pleasure in These Paper Bullets!, Rolin Jones’s Much Ado About Nothing adaptation at the Geffen, is to report that the smile that came over my face in the first five minutes stayed with me through the intermission, which I couldn’t wait to have end so that I could return for Act Two, and hung on back to my car and beyond. …Jones completely respects the Much Ado plot and characters, but in Carnaby Street attire and manner they simultaneously create something that’s brand new and of itself. Continue reading here …

Playwright Rolin Jones has ingeniously taken Shakespeare’s characters, plot and at times dialogue and smushed it up into a madcap romp of an outing. He keeps Shakespeare’s style of writing intact although his words are much more modish and the result will have you chuckling with glee at the witty wordplay. Continue reading here …

Jones’ mash-up skills are nothing if not ingenious, as when he has onetime Beatle Pete Best turn up as Don Best, aka Much Ado’s Don John, to play the villain. … Armstrong’s Beatles-esque songs [are] so spot-on that you may find yourself thinking you’re hearing deleted tracks from Meet The Beatles or A Hard Day’s Night. (“Give It All to You,” “It Keeps Me Satisfied,” “Baby Blue,” “Regretfully Yours,” and others are so sublimely groovy, they merit a Meet The Quartos CD asap.) Continue reading here …