For two or three years now, my husband has been dragging me out of the house every few weeks to go to whatever’s going on at the Yale Rep. I am (to put it nicely) not someone who likes going to the theater, but I do appreciate a night away from the house, so I’m not complaining, really; but I will say, I’d be just as happy going to the movies. And with the Yale Rep -- you know, they like to do experimental stuff, it’s often brainier than I need, and over time I have arrived at this method of summing up my Yale Rep experiences: Is it a one-nap play or a two-nap play? We saw Paul Giamatti (who I love) in Hamlet last year. That, as I recall, was a three-nap play. I slept through the big fight scene.
The funny thing is, my husband (who never naps through any of the productions, and is far more charitably disposed, and loves live theater) often mocks Rep productions for the same reasons I do. What we often think is, The Rep productions are stunningly produced; they are technically amazing to watch, the performances are great. But man, the scripts are uneven. I’d say that each season gives us one or two shows we actually enjoy; but I’ve never gone napless through a Rep production. Until last night.
Friday night we went to see These! Paper! Bullets! and my own prediction was a) that I’d take a nap and b) I’d like it well enough anyway, and c) my husband would find it vaguely amusing without actually enjoying it. I turned out to be so, so wrong. So wrong, that I knew halfway through the evening I was going to have to write about this for the New Haven Review, because, frankly, if I enjoy something this much, I feel morally obligated to do something about it. A review here is pretty much the only thing I can do about it. Anyone who’s reading this and has a chance to see this production: Get yourself down to the Yale Rep. Sell some used books to Book Trader to come up with the money to buy tickets; borrow money; I don’t care. Go see These! Paper! Bullets!
Here’s the thing, folks. This is a situation where, for me as an audience member, there’s a lot going against a night out seeing this show. We have a tired mother, for starters. We have a format I don’t like (live theater). We’ve got a play based on a work I don’t care about at all (Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing). We’ve got a musician I don’t care about (Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, a band I never liked). And we’ve got some theater people who -- I’ll be honest -- I just don’t know anything about, but people who know far better than I do think highly of them, so, fine (I glance in the directions of Donald Brown and Chris Arnott; I defer, always, to Chris in matters like these). We have the knowledge that it’s gonna be a Rep show, which usually means, “Jesus, seriously, you’re making me sit through this?” The only thing the play had going for it, in my case, is that I am a serious Beatles fan, and as such was likely to find at least the Beatles references in the show amusing. (In reality: they are more than amusing, they are really good.)
But what this very unlikely combinations of circumstances has led to is a very, very rare beast: a play that I would actually want to see again. 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! and trust me: this kind of thing may never happen again.