I may come off as a snob in this review, but when I heard “Billie Joe Armstrong has a new musical coming out and its based off of Shakespeare!” I kind of turned up my nose and thought “it won’t be the end of the world if I miss it.” MAN WAS I WRONG! These Paper Bullets just became my new favorite play! If you enjoy music, if you enjoy Shakespeare, if you enjoy a classic farce, make your way to the Atlantic Theater Company!
The setting is in London, 1964 and the world is going crazy for the boy group, The Quartos, which have a severer resemblance to the Beatles. We meet the band backstage in their dressing room (naturally) after they give a rock star opening! We meet the girls Higgy and Bea, one the model, the other her fashion designer. Then the door opens are we see flying bras and underwear, and the boys make their appearance: Pedro the Drummer, Claude the lead singer, Ben on guitar, and dark mysterious Balth on Bass.
Like any great farce we have rumors, lies, and false identities, which comes to life from this brilliant ensemble! We follow the struggle to marriage for Higgy and Claude who fall in love at first sight, and the commitment issues Ben and Bea experience because both are to stubborn to express their feelings. Ariana Venturi portrays Higgy who does an amazing job at capturing an over dramatic drama queen and yet making her lovable, and polar opposite Claude, played by Bryan Fenkart, who manages to make “straight lace/ average/ boring” type, fun and hilarious. Once we finally get Higgy and Claude on the same page, we have Ben and Bea’s “relationship” hit the fan. Bea played by Nicole Parker is a standout STAR! Her comedic timing was perfection, she commanded the stage, and I couldn’t stop watching her. And then we have her partner Ben, played by the talented Justin Kirk, who had the audience eating out of his hand. He’s the “guys, guy” that all the men want to be friends with, and the sexy man all the ladies want to marry. The cast has so many great comedic actors that you must see this show to see it yourself.
Jackson Gay does a fantastic job directing this piece. The staging was wonderfully done, and the show has so many great stage pictures that if I couldn’t hear I would know what exactly was going on. The show had an amazing balance between Shakespeare and rock n roll, that it helped modernize the piece and honestly made it easier to follow the story line. Everyone should take a note from Rollin Jones, because this is how you successfully modernize Shakespeare and make it a hit!
Review By: Briana Burnside
Photos By: Walter McBride