March 27, 2014

NEW HAVEN — All the mod markers have been spruced up and put in place in the freely swinging Shakespeare-inspired romp These Paper Bullets! at Yale Repertory Theater here. Cheekily described as “a modish ripoff” of Much Ado About Nothing, the production evokes with tangy authority the sights, sounds and styles of London rumbling through the youthquake years. The Vidal Sassoon bobs are spot on; the bowl cuts for the boys raise a smile; A-line miniskirts expose milky thighs above go-go boots snugly hugging calves. The strumming guitars and tight harmonies are provided by Billie Joe Armstrong, the frontman of Green Day, whose American Idiot was seen on Broadway. Mr. Armstrong has written a small but select group of pop nuggets for the show, performed with amiable gusto by the actors, that ably mimic the head-wagging early Beatles hits. Rolin Jones’s adaptation transforms Shakespeare’s soldiers returning from battle into a swoon-inducing rock band coming off a world tour: the Quartos, they are called. (Get it?)