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These Paper Bullets!

Members say: Entertaining, Clever, Funny, Delightful, Hilarious
70
Critics
60
40 reviews
Members
75
73 reviews
 

The Atlantic presents a musical, modish ripoff of William Shakespeare’s 'Much Ado About Nothing' about a rock group from Liverpool that returns to swinging ’60s London after conquering the U.S.

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'These Paper Bullets' follows Ben, Claude, Balth, and Pedro. The four make up the wildly popular band Quartos. Worshipped by fans, feared by Scotland Yard, and hounded by their former drummer, who is determined to destroy them, they arrive in London. In only seven nights, the fab four from Liverpool will travel to London, attempt to cut an album, and woo their way to true love. As usual, however, true love may end up making fools of them all.

 

Cast & Creatives (25)



Reviews (113)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
60
Avg Score

65
The New York Times

"A lively if labored update of “Much Ado'...The jangling rock tunes by Billie Joe Armstrong provide energizing interludes...Jolly though it remains throughout, 'These Paper Bullets!' becomes exhausting as Mr. Jones piles on the complications...What has most crucially gone missing, unfortunately, is any depth of feeling in the main characters, which becomes a liability as the show stretches to two and a half hours." Full Review

75
Theatermania

"It's a heady mixture of individually powerful elements (Shakespeare, the Beatles, Armstrong) that occasionally tastes like chocolate cake washed down with Riesling — it's just too much of a sugar rush. When it gets the balance right, however, 'These Paper Bullets!' is genuinely delightful and very funny...The play may be trying way too hard to please, but that doesn't ruin the charming and timeless comedy at its core." Full Review

75
BroadwayWorld

"The parallels work and Jones' script has clever moments, but the overwritten text is full of soggy dialogue and extended bits that aren't especially funny...The frothy direction is built on fun splashes of the mod era and the capable cast dives right in, but the indisputable highlights of the piece come any time the boys dig into Armstrong's jaunty lyrics and bouncy melodies." Full Review

85
Time Out New York

"Jones takes liberties with story; there are also wacky diversions into Benny Hill silliness...Snappily directed, with tremendous costumes, 'These Paper Bullets!' fizzes with the comedy of sexual liberation...Parker’s bravura physical comedy made me laugh harder than anything I’ve seen in the theater all year....The show is well acted all around, but the women are particularly fab." Full Review

30
The Hollywood Reporter

"Unfortunately, 'These Paper Bullets!' is not a musical, but rather a laborious farce, uneasily combining satirical riffs on The Bard with tired spoofing of The Fab Four. Since both ideas have been done to death over the years, there's little that's fresh here...The chief pleasures of the show stem from the handful of Armstrong's songs, which ape the Beatles' music. The problem is that there aren't nearly enough of them, and there's too much of everything else. " Full Review

25
New York Magazine / Vulture

"Whether you will like 'These Paper Bullets!' will probably depend on how much you like 'Much Ado About Nothing.' Depend inversely, I mean. If that most deeply human of Shakespeare’s comedies means little to you, its adaptation as a play with music may amuse. Otherwise you are likely to find it, as I did, leaden, juvenile, chaotic, and nearly intolerable, except when it sings. Then, it’s nice." Full Review

65
The Guardian (UK)

"Direction is playful and the musical numbers are a treat (though the sound mix still needs work as the vocals are often swallowed), but the evening isn’t as much fun as it ought to be...The first act in particular takes an awful long time to get going and the script hews too closely to the structure of the original when short cuts would be welcome." Full Review

35
New York Theater

“'These Paper Bullets,' a mash up of the Bard’s 'Much Ado' with a spoof of the Fab Four, is great to look at, with songs that are fabulous to listen to. So why did I find so much of it excruciating to sit through? The answer is the tone. In what felt like an almost desperate effort to entertain us, playwright Rolin Jones and director Jackson Gay too often effect a Monty Python-like silliness...You either find all this goofiness funny or you don’t. I didn’t." Full Review

25
Lighting & Sound America

"Stripped of the author's stunning language and character insights that remain relevant four centuries later, 'Much Ado About Nothing' is a silly, mechanical thing, constructed of two narrative lines that are tonally at odds... Mostly, what he has brought to 'These Paper Bullets!' are vulgar, unfunny gags about massage parlors, drugs, gonorrhea, and pubic hair. It's Shakespeare, coarsened and pitched at an audience of 21st-century groundlings. I want my Bard back." Full Review

40
Broadway Blog

"The production itself is a clownish mishmash of juvenilia, performed with all the subtlety of the Three Stooges...Gay encourages her actors to mug mercilessly as if this were a dramatization of “Twist and Shout,” the pratfalls pile up like pancakes, girls’ panties fly like snowflakes, people wear lampshades on their heads, and Bea...does a bit with a used condom she can’t dislodge from her finger." Full Review

35
AM New York

"The main problem lies in Rolin Jones’ labored, overlong script, which uneasily combines lines from the original text with colloquial language. It would have been better to either perform 'Much Ado' as is or use all-new dialogue. Jackson Gay’s direction is not so great. The cast tries too hard to win laughs with broad, frantic antics, and visually the production is ugly and cluttered." Full Review

70
The Huffington Post

"This reviewer will admit that matching 'Much Ado' with the particulars of 'Bullets!' was fun for a while. Sometime before act one ends, however, Jones's striving too hard to follow the 'Much Ado' ins-and-outs began to take a toll. Furthermore, a few of the sequences stopped being laugh-provoking and become merely messily strained.... Shout-out to Jackson Gay, and the success she's had with a cast that consistently makes the hot parts hotter. " Full Review

20
Talkin' Broadway

"They have taken an ironclad work and, through their stewardship, made it so iffy, so unsteady, and so just-plain annoying, that, even at a running time of two and a half hours (shorter than your typical uncut 'Much Ado'), it feels overlong by at least an hour, and maybe much more than that." Full Review

40
New York Daily News

"Too bad 'These Paper Bullets!' — a riff on 'Much Ado About Nothing' by Rolin Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong — misses the mark when it comes to being fully engaging. This play with music comes off labored and overlong, despite a fine ensemble and direction by Jackson Gay, whose staging packs energy and clever live video." Full Review

80
Deadline

"Jones has a gift for reconstituting Shakespearean dialogue with just enough sampling of the real thing to keep us feeling both amused and smart. Even more impressive, each of Armstrong’s songs mimics an identifiable number from the Lennon/McCartney canon while ingeniously turning the songs inside out...The whole may not be more than the sum of its parts, but the parts positively sparkle." Full Review

90
CurtainUp

"'These Paper Bullets' delightfully and successfully brings together the unlikely mix of Liverpoolian and Shakespearean dialogue. Given a cast that besides being comfortable in classic as modern roles can sing and dance, this play with music has been a hit in its previous stops...The Atlantic Theater run is again a sure-fire crowd pleaser. What would keep this from being a 10 is the failure to edit out some of over-the-top comic shtick." Full Review

35
The Wrap

"There isn’t enough of Armstrong’s music and there’s way too much of Rolin Jones’ book, which achieves the uneasy feat of being both amateur and frenetic. Jackson Gay directs the actors to scream and gesticulate like crazy people. Only Justin Kirk as one of the Quartos manages to deliver a somewhat subdued performance despite wrestling with a stuffed bird, among other things." Full Review

60
CitiTour

"Under Jackson Gay’s uneven direction, 'These Paper Bullets' is the theatrical equivalent of the now popular 'piecaken': it puts together things that usually are served at separate sittings. And while this layer cake of Shakespeare’s 'Much Ado About Nothing,' Billy Joe Armstrong’s authentic-sounding faux-1960s tunes, and Monty Python silliness is often delicious, it can also be too much to eat at once and sometimes leave you feeling overstuffed rather than really satisfied." Full Review

35
NorthJersey.com

"There are lots of funny lines and the performers get fully into the mood of the zany occasion...The evening has no center, no involving bit of story to hang onto as it takes us on its roller-coaster ride. The result is that the stream of gags, goofiness, labored complications and bad poetry becomes tiresome." Full Review

70
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"All of it is piled on with dashes of cleverness, abetted by a cast giving its all, but the result is often way too much. Yet the effect is so zany that one can have a good time a good deal of the way and not care a hoot about what is being irreverently done to Shakespeare." Full Review

80
Broadway & Me

"The biggest kudos go to director Jackson Gay who uses everything she can think of—terrific video projections of the period, some mild audience participation and a drag Queen Elizabeth—to create the show's jovial mood. Some of the antics are sophomoric and the show goes on longer than need be. But the unabashed desire by everyone involved to give the audience a good time left me with a grin on my face." Full Review

75
Theatre is Easy

"When this mod show rocks, it really rocks, but the musical numbers are so strong that there should be more...Though Rolin Jones does an admirable job, nothing beats the original. The dialogue is so on the surface that Bea and Ben's courtship isn't as satisfying. Jackson Gay's direction works especially well, but all this running around sometimes drags. That could easily be fixed with more songs. One can't help but wonder why this play with music can't just be a musical." Full Review

70
NY1

"The farcical elements are high points but the play is overstuffed. At two and a half hours, the novelty wears off and it becomes exhausting trying to keep up with the myriad references...Director Jackson Gay lets it all hang out for better and worse, though there clearly is method to the madness. If only there wasn’t so much of it." Full Review

80
TheaterScene.net

"The director, might have made the Act One complications more comprehensible by slowing things down, but she has gotten brilliant work from the entire cast... 'These Paper Bullets!' is lots of fun for those with a bit of patience to wade through the modern gloss to get to the Shakespearean soul of the story. Patience is rewarded with a different take on the original and a stage-full of fine performers who deliver the story with unflagging energy and panache." Full Review

80
Musical Theater Review

"What’s notable is the enthusiasm and freshness playwright, director and an ebulliently gifted cast have brought to the task...Director Gay adds to the jokes with a variety of sight gags. Nevertheless, there are times that the show could have used another song or two, times when the farce is extended almost to the point of running out of petrol...It hits its target with an abundance of sometimes snarky but often adorable frivolity." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
75
Avg Score

75
Funny, Clever, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if You love the Beatles and the Bard, in that order. I do wish they had fully committed language-wise to one style though.

Don't see it if You don't like mixing britpop with Shakespeare.

79
Funny, Entertaining, Witty, Great costumes, Fluffy

See it if You love Much Ado About Nothing (which I do) Looking for some just plain fun

Don't see it if You are looking for something serious or tight

65
These paper bullets take aim, but slightly miss the mark

See it if you love Beatles-que music, the sixties, Shakespeare, cleverness, great costumes and hair, ambitious concepts. I was mostly entertained.

Don't see it if you get bored (it's too long) or you dislike stupid slapstick (I found the Scotland Yard segments painfully unappealing).

90
Delightful, Dizzying, Refreshing, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you're looking for a shaggy charmer-- giddy, silly, smart, wild, and tuneful

Don't see it if you'll be turned off by a little mess

75
Funny, Clever, Entertaining, Great costumes, Great singing

See it if you like musical songs written into the dialogue.

Don't see it if don;t like the Beatles or Beatles themed plays.

37
Dizzying, Edgy, Banal, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if You like the Beatles, but don't mind being annoyed nonetheless. I love the Beatles, but really disliked it.

Don't see it if You mind getting a headache from the fake cigarette smoke.

65
Funny, Cliched, Messy, Too complicated, Dragged

See it if you really love Beatles pastiche songs. The leads were good. The running gags were funny... sometimes.

Don't see it if you have any reverence for Shakespeare. You want to see a coherent, cohesive play. This meanders b/c it's everything but the kitchen sink.

35
Raunchy, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if You really like Much Ado About Nothing and the Beatles.

Don't see it if You have any sense. This was a confusing, surprisingly raunchy and vulgar mess. Also, a play with music, not a musical.

75
Clever, Confusing, Overrated, Expected more

See it if I saw a preview, perhaps it improved. But I found it flat and draggy.

Don't see it if You loved American Idiot and expect that level of music and intensity.

72
Funny, Dizzying, Confusing, Disappointing, Insipid

See it if You love the British invasion and don't mind a quirky, meandering play-that-wants-to-be-a-musical.

Don't see it if You are looking for a smartly-written musical.

71
Clever, Quirky, Hilarious, Entertaining, Snarky

See it if You like Shakespeare and The Beatles. A fun show that moves Much Ado to the 1960's. The wedding scene in particular is a hoot.

Don't see it if The show doesn't make its turn to the dramatic well. Felt like there should have been more music.

85
Funny, Clever, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if Hilarious modern update of Shakespeare comedy. Great Beatles style songs

Don't see it if Some parts were corny

78
Funny, Original, Clever, Entertaining, Well-acted

See it if you like plays based on Shakespeare's. I had a great time, but if you don't know the premise you might not stay for 2nd act -- but DO.

Don't see it if you're not that keen on Shakespeare. This clever updated version of "Much Ado About Nothing" is fun, but some familiarity is helpful.

76
Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like the beatles and enjoy a light off broadway musical

Don't see it if you dont like the beatles and dont like silly light hearted shows

25
Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you enjoy a lot of Beatles references.

Don't see it if you want character development.

90
Funny, Original, Ambitious, Clever, Great staging

See it if you like Shakespeare or The Beatles (it's sort of a mashup of both) and fantastic staging.

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare or The Beatles.

35
Excruciating, Upbeat

See it if unlike me, you actually like musicals and Shakespearean comedies. Who knows, the second act might be better. I couldn't bear to stay.

Don't see it if you really don't care much for musicals (except, of course, Hamilton) and prefer drama, angst and disfunction to giddy .

88
Funny, Original, Plot could be confusing at times, Great for beatles fans, Great setting: sixties london

See it if you don't mind your Shakespeare being mixed up a bit!

Don't see it if you love Much Ado About Nothing just the way it is (was). Also, don't see it if you hate the music that came out of the British Invasion.

70
Ambitious, Indulgent, Disappointing, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if think a show that evokes the Beatles and Shakespeare is a must see. Acting is good. Songs are better.

Don't see it if a crisp well written script is high on your list of wants. Billy Joe Armstrong would have been better suited to do a Beatlesesque album.

80
Funny, Delightful, Entertaining, Fun

See it if you like to have fun & listen to fun beatles-like music.Loosely based on Much Ado About Nothing. Some lines taken verbatim from the original

Don't see it if you are a Shakespeare purist.

84
Funny, Entertaining, Great music, Great cast

See it if You like funny shows with great music or like the 60s (music, fashion, celebrity) It's a lot of fun! The women are particularly hysterical!

Don't see it if You don't like over the top shows. It's a farce of the 1960's, the Beatles, fashion, twiggy, etc. It's very well done but 20min too long.

86
Funny, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if Beatlemania meets The Bard. Great music and great fun! Love when The Queen is in the audience. Much Ado in Carnaby Street. Love you yeah!

Don't see it if If you want your Shakespeare to be pure or you don't like The Beatles.

85
Original, Clever, Delightful, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if You would enjoy a silly Shakespeare spoof consisting of Beatles-style music, 60's fashion styles and fast-paced hilarity.

Don't see it if You have no patience for zany slapstick humor in a Shakespeare-style plot where romantic mishaps rule or don't like 60's pop music.

63
Funny, Clever, Fluffy

See it if you like Beatles type music and don't mind if it is a little loud

Don't see it if poor sound design is going to bother you

25
Confusing, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if you want a slow and mostly unfunny farce.

Don't see it if you want to see the next American Idiot.