(Video by Jessica Leibowitz/Gothamist)

What happens when William Shakespeare gets updated to swinging 1960s London, with era-appropriate songs by Billie Joe Armstrong? It's the effervescent new play, These Paper Bullets!, Rolin Jones's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing starring Justin Kirk and Nicole Parker as squabbling lovers.

Opening tonight at the Atlantic Theater, the play, which calls itself a "modish ripoff" of Much Ado, sets up the pair as the top celebrities of their time: Beatrice is now Bea, a trendsetting fashion designer with an equally cutting-edge bob by Vidal Sassoon, while Benedick has become Ben, a member of The Quartos, a staggeringly popular rock band from Liverpool. This made the whole proposition irresistible to Kirk, who took us on a backstage tour, which includes a vintage Rickenbacker owned by Armstrong as well as the communal dressing room.

Jones, a Pulitzer-nominated playwright and Emmy-nominated TV writer (Weeds; Friday Night Lights—he made you sob uncontrollably during "The Son"; and Boardwalk Empire) received the initial commission from the Yale Repertory Theater. He recalled to SCPR that Armstrong "just said, “OK, let me get this straight. You’re going to rewrite Shakespeare and I’m going to rewrite the the Beatles?' And I was like, 'Yeah, that’s pretty much it.' And he was like, 'All right, what the hell, I got three weeks. Let’s do it.'"

The cast of fifteen features a variety of British accents, and Parker is enjoying the posh one she employs. She spent some time demonstrating how American accents are so much lazier than British accents:


(Video by Jessica Leibowitz/Gothamist)

The Atlantic Theater's production of These Paper Bullets! is playing at the Linda Gross Theater, 336 W 20th Street, in a limited engagement through January 10. Tickets are $75; more info here.