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Review: Matt & Ben presented by Oily Rag Theatre

RAD LIFE

Review: Matt & Ben presented by Oily Rag Theatre

Caitlin Ellen

We all know Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. But how much do we know about their epic friendship and how they came up with Good Will Hunting? Lucky for us, Mindy Kaling (The Office US and The Mindy Project) and Brenda Withers (The Office US) wrote a play depicting it all. Even luckier, Oily Rag Theatre brought the play to life last month in lil’ old Radelaide.

Part of the Back 2 Back Short Show Festival, the play accounts the origins of Good Will Hunting, the 1997 film that put Matt Damon and Ben Affleck on pretty much everyone’s radar. It centres on the two struggling young actor BFFs and the day the screenplay fall from the heavens and into Affleck’s living room. The 2002 play, entitled Matt & Ben, stands the test of time in terms of comedy. Satirical and playing on toxic masculinity, it traditionally has two women playing the roles of Matt and Ben. This time round the Hollywood actors are played by Louise Byrne and Jennifer Barry.

Louise Byne brings a prim and proper Matt Damon to life, “classically trained” and somewhat too good for his jock-high-school-best-friend Ben Affleck, who is hilariously played by Jennifer Barry. The two take us through their reactions of discovering the screenplay they never remembered writing and the highs and lows of their friendship. It includes so many mentions of Casey Affleck, and the best fantasy acting of Gwyneth Paltrow I have ever seen. Barry and Byrne had the whole audience laughing throughout, even entertaining my usual comedy-theatre-opposed mother with every joke and quirk.

But it’s not all laughs with this show. You’ll learn the trials and tribulations of male friendships, and find out what it’s like as a struggling actor looking for their big break. Will it fall from the sky? Probably not. It probably won’t come from making screenplays of classic novels either. Hopefully only good things are in store for Louise Byrne and Jennifer Barry.

If you get the chance to see Matt & Ben, do. It’ll be a right laugh for all involved. I’d also recommend keeping an eye out for whatever Byrne and Barry do next, and for whatever’s in store for Oily Rag Theatre as we come into the new year.

Image sourced from Oily Rag Theatre here.