Saturday, February 7, 2015

Matt & Ben

Play #11 - Matt & Ben by Mindy Kaling & Brenda Withers

This play is just plain fun... but also, I imagine, a little tough to separate from its creator. It sort of made me think of Parallel Lives: The Kathy and Mo Show in that way. Both plays are hilarious, and could certainly be hilarious with any number of skilled performers, but there is something about them that really belongs to the people who wrote and originally performed them.

At any rate, the idea behind Matt & Ben is that two women are playing Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who are two dudes from Boston in the middle of trying to write a screenplay adaptation of Catcher in the Rye. It's not going terribly well. Then, lo and behold, a parcel falls from the ceiling. In this parcel is the completed screenplay for Good Will Hunting - with these two guys' names on the cover sheet. For the rest of the play, then, they attempt to decide what to do. Can they pass this off as their own? It does say it's theirs, after all. Who would play the lead? Who has always overshadowed/been jealous of whom? They explore their current and past frustrations through a series of hilarious memory-type scenes in which they sometimes play other characters from their past. Finally, once they have reunited after their big fight, they discover that the pages are now blank, and the lights go down on them attempting to recreate the screenplay from their memory. It's a bizarre and delightful "what if" for the origin story of two dudes from Boston who managed to win an Oscar for a screenplay.

I will admit, I have been developing a bit of a crush on Mindy Kaling of late, having just started watching The Mindy Project. She has a really fun, dynamic, up-beat wit that just invites a very positive and pleasant kind of laughter. I get a sense of enjoyment from her work - and that definitely comes through in this send up of the buddy comedy/Cinderella story/origin story. However, reading this on the heels of the Super Bowl and her very funny ad for Nationwide (which I cannot, for some reason, find in its full version anywhere online... wtf, internets!), I can't help but wonder what's up with her and Matt Damon? Personally, I hope they're awesome friends.

This is the kind of play that I would like to perform with a really close and trusted friend - I think that's the kind of vibe that wrote it, and the vibe it's about - so it really seems to demand it.

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