These Paper Bullets!
Closed 2h 35m
These Paper Bullets!
75

These Paper Bullets! NYC Reviews and Tickets

75%
(73 Reviews)
Positive
79%
Mixed
11%
Negative
10%
Members say
Entertaining, Clever, Funny, Delightful, Hilarious

About the Show

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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Member Reviews (73)

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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).

80
Funny, Entertaining, Delightful, 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.

Critic Reviews (40)

The New York Times
December 15th, 2015

"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."
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Time Out New York
December 15th, 2015

"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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
December 15th, 2015

"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."
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The Hollywood Reporter
December 15th, 2015

"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. "
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Deadline
December 16th, 2015

"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."
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New York Daily News
December 15th, 2015

"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."
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AM New York
December 15th, 2015

"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."
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NY1
December 18th, 2015

"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."
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Theatermania
December 15th, 2015

"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."
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BroadwayWorld
December 16th, 2015

"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."
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Lighting & Sound America
December 21st, 2015

"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."
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Talkin' Broadway
December 15th, 2015

"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."
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TheaterScene.net
December 27th, 2015

"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."
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Theatre is Easy
December 18th, 2015

"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."
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Theater Pizzazz
December 20th, 2015

"It takes a while for it to find its footing – it’s a little awkward and sluggish at first – but it gains confidence and humor as it progresses and ends on a high note. Surprisingly, the weakest link is the music…Luckily, 'These Paper Bullets' is more a play with music than an actual musical, so its melodic flaws are not fatal. The storyline, however, fueled by what is arguably Shakespeare’s most accessible comedy, exudes vivacity."
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CurtainUp
December 16th, 2015

"'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."
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New York Theater
December 19th, 2015

“'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."
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Broadway Blog
December 23rd, 2015

"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."
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C
December 18th, 2015

"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."
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The Guardian (UK)
December 15th, 2015

"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."
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The Huffington Post
December 16th, 2015

"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. "
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The Wrap
December 15th, 2015

"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."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
December 19th, 2015

"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."
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Broadway & Me
December 29th, 2015

"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."
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NorthJersey.com
December 16th, 2015

"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."
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M
December 18th, 2015

"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."
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NY Theatre Guide
December 15th, 2015

"This 'play with music' was made for anyone who loves the Beatles and Shakespeare, and who secretly wondered what could have been if they made something together...Simply, 'These Paper Bullets' is fun. It is a great musical that is worth watching, especially because I truly believe it is bound and deserving of Broadway. Trust me, you will love this show."
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Reviewing The Drama
December 15th, 2015

"I was particularly excited to see 'These Paper Bullets'...Oof. Was I disappointed....Shakespeare's plays have a lot of moving parts, but book writer Jones misses the beat when he does too much to incorporate all of those plotlines...But that's not where the disappointments end. There is little palpable cohesion throughout the show...The tone is uneven...Director Jackson Gay could stand to set forth a vision for the show."
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Village Voice
December 15th, 2015

"This version of 'Much Ado About Nothing' features toe-tapping, carbonated songs by Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong that convincingly channel the early Beatles, from super-sweet lyrics to hummable harmonies. The dialogue is a conflation of Sixties lingo and faux Elizabethan...It takes a minute to adjust to the funny, frequently raunchy banter...Occasional audience participation adds to the general hilarity...Great fun."
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The New York Times
March 27th, 2014
For a previous production

"The production has been well cast and is acted with lively spirits...Unfortunately, 'These Paper Bullets!' ultimately never moves beyond its clever conceit to become a fully absorbing reinvention of the Shakespeare play. Shorn of the language that breathes life into them, Shakespeare’s characters are reduced to Twiggy-thin types."
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Talkin' Broadway
March 23rd, 2014
For a previous production

"A theatrical stunner: the show is most clever, musically smashing, complex, intriguing, amusing, and joyful...The current play tosses out many a laugh-out-loud moment. It can be appreciated for its music, designers' touches, high level of performance...and most of all for the juxtaposition of genres facilitated by the creative team...It certainly seems that all members of this cast are having quite a blast with this production. Joie de vivre!"
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CurtainUp
March 22nd, 2014
For a previous production

"If you missed the ebullience of the swinging 1960's because of youth or indifference, a trip to the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven will more than compensate for the oversight. There, brimming with wit, foot tapping rhythm and nearly two dozen go-for-broke performances, you will discover the most original show of the season."
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Connecticut Arts Connection
March 25th, 2014
For a previous production

"It’s a fun show with lots of laughs throughout...Most exciting to me was that if you didn’t know the basis plot was 'Much Ado,' you wouldn’t know you were watching Shakespeare. The adaptation takes on its own persona and those enjoying the tunes and story might have no idea old Will had anything to do with the production."
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Stu on Broadway
March 29th, 2014
For a previous production

"Unpretentious, unadulterated fun. Those are the operative words that come to mind to describe the semi-musical, These! Paper! Bullets...!' While a great idea, it is only a serviceable reshaping of the Bard’s work, coming across as a bit muddled in the beginning, but after settling in midway through the first act the production gathers steam and becomes a more breezy bit of fare."
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N
March 21st, 2014
For a previous production

"Even with the immense challenges—a live rock score played by the lead actors, massive sets that could easily stall or get stuck, tricky physical shtick (like vomiting, or dropping a royal crown off the auditorium balcony) and, um, rewriting Shakespeare—this is a stress-free, sit-back-and-savor, sustained burst of beat-filled silliness."
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Examiner
March 25th, 2014
For a previous production

"Yale Repertory Theatre is now offering an engaging, entertaining and genuinely funny take on the Bard’s 'Much Ado About Nothing...' One of the great triumphs of this production is the smooth, virtually unnoticeable way in which Jones’ dialogue moves effortlessly from Shakespeare’s prose to the slang of the ‘60’s, down to the point of sounding similar in sentence structure and style."
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New Haven Review
March 23rd, 2014
For a previous production

"Everyone in the cast is amazing; the dialogue is great; the costumes and sets are a pleasure, and there just isn’t enough time in the show to really take it all in. I cannot say enough good things about 'These! Paper! Bullets!'"
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The Charger Bulletin
April 23rd, 2014
For a previous production

"Overall the production was a success. There were elements in the production that both added and took away from the success of the play. Taking specific lines from 'Much Ado About Nothing' enhanced the effect of the points being portrayed...Being over 50 years ago, there is still room for the audience to displace themselves. The cast of the production, however, discovered a way to overcome the time gap. They involved the audience in the production themselves."
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Artes Magazine
April 2nd, 2014
For a previous production

"This romp through Shakespeare land is a delight from just about start to finish. The audience may need a few minutes to adjust to the accents and metrics, but once the ear is accustomed to all of the iambs, things move along swimmingly."
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westsidetoday.com
September 23rd, 2015
For a previous production

"The evening was 'full of sound and fury signifying nothing'... A lot of the frenetic, hard-to-follow craziness takes place in the Messina Hotel...The production values are excellent...Sound design and incidental music adds to the overall musical content of the play, which is the most satisfying component...It leaves the audience with an enjoyable sugary aftertaste, but not much substance.”
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